Vodafone's Huawei 4G Cube: Is it good value?

VodaHWCube
Vodafone’s traditionally steered clear of the fixed line broadband market, being a mobile telco and all. It’s just launched its latest product that’s aimed pretty solidly at the fixed line broadband market, however. Is it worth buying?
The Huawei Wifi Cube 4G isn’t actually a cube, as the picture demonstrates, but instead is a home gateway to Vodafone’s 4G network with support for up to 32 client devices. That’s quite a bit more than you’d get from your standard 4G WiFi hotspot, but the catch there is that the Huawei Wifi Cube 4G doesn’t appear to offer any kind of battery backup, relying instead on a standard power point.
Vodafone’s specification page for the Cube doesn’t list whether it’s 802.11ac compatible or just plain old 802.11n, although it does have a claimed range of “up to” 200m.
So what about the pricing? Vodafone will sell the WiFi Cube outright for $159 if you fancy using it with a straight prepaid data SIM, or on contract. It’s the contract pricing I’ve concentrated on, as that’s where the data “value” should lie.
[table]
Vodafone Huawei Wifi Cube 4G Plan Comparison,,,,,
Telco/ISP,Plan Name,Monthly Cost,Included Data,Contract Term,Minimum Total Cost
Vodafone ,$20 Plan,$31 ($20 + $11 device fee),2.5GB,12 Months,$372
Vodafone ,$30 Plan,$41 ($30 + $11 device fee),4GB,12 Months,$492
Vodafone ,$45 Plan,$56 ($45 + $11 device fee),8GB,12 Months,$672
Vodafone ,$65 Plan,$76 ($65 + $11 device fee),12GB,12 Months,$840
Vodafone ,$90 Plan,$101 ($90 + $11 device fee),25GB,12 Months,”$1,140 ”
Vodafone ,$20 Plan,$25 ($20 + $5 device fee),2.5GB,24 Months,$600
Vodafone ,$30 Plan,$35 ($30 + $5 device fee),4GB,24 Months,$840
Vodafone ,$45 Plan,$50 ($45 + $5 device fee),8GB,24 Months,”$1,200 ”
Vodafone ,$65 Plan,$65 ,12GB,24 Months,”$1,560 ”
Vodafone ,$90 Plan,$90 ,25GB,24 Months,”$2,160 “[/table]
Vodafone’s pricing is largely in line with its existing mobile broadband plans, and that makes for difficult comparison with absolute fixed line services. It’s not hard to spend the upper tier of their pricing bracket for unlimited or near-unlimited (500GB+) fixed line services. This puts Vodafone in the unusual position of being the pricey alternative to fixed lines if they’re available to you.
If you’re a heavy user of a mobile service because the fixed line alternatives are simply woeful, whether that’s due to dodgy copper, unavailable ADSL ports or cable saturation, however, it’s a different story, especially if you do happen to be in any of Vodafone’s existing 4G footprint areas. I could see a market for this kind of device in some rental instances where a landlord might not be willing to spend money on connections to fixed line services, for example.
It’s also an interesting object lesson in device repayment strategies. While you can buy the Cube outright for $159, on the cheapest contract you’ll only pay $132 additional on a 12 month contract, or $120 if you’re willing to stick with Vodafone for two years.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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