Now this is a very interesting announcement from Vodafone Italy. Due for launch in the summer, it seems that Voda is launching a really clever combined ADSL Gateway + detachable HSPA Dongle product and broadband service. Apparently the box has been developed in collaboration with Huawei.
Some more details, and a picture of the Huawei box are here, and a video of the detachable dongle is here.
So, clever part #1 is that this combines an ADSL home broadband connection with an HSPA mobile broadband connection. I've been commenting for a whole that many users of 3G dongles also have home broadband, although some might view it as a substitute. This is the neatest offer I've seen that combines the two, although both O2 has a bundle offering as well.
And clever part #2 is that the box starts working in advance of ADSL being provisioned, by using the 3G dongle as an alternative wireless access for the gateway. In the past Voda has sold a Linksys box with a slot for a 3G data card, but that was mainly aimed at businesses wanting a portable 3G-backhauled WiFi access point.
And #3 is that it supports voice, over both ADSL and HSPA, from both phone or PC. I'm waiting to get full details, but it appears that this must be VoIP, unless they've somehow got a circuit-switched voice client on the PC, coupled to the dongle. Now perhaps the idea is to offer basic OK-quality VoIPo3G on the gateway until ADSL is provisioned. But it will be really interesting to see if the dongle also supports full VoIPo3G from the PC when connected remotely.
EDIT, 29 May: I've got a clarification and it turns out that it's not quite as clever as I thought.... unfortunately, it's not VoIPo3G.
You can make voice calls via the circuit-switched capability in the HSPA dongle, with a traditional analogue phone plugged into the voice port on the box. Apparently voice isn't supported when the dongle is used on a PC. Looks like the wording in the press release was a little ambiguous. VoIP is supported when it's in DSL mode.
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