BigPond has started distributing “2wire” modems with VoIP built-in to ADSL customers but has ordered the manufacturer to remove the VoIP functionality from the modem’s firmware.
The modem has an inbuilt analogue telephone adaptor which would allow customers to plug in a standard phone such as a Telstra Touchfone and make calls over the internet.
However the modem comes with a piece of sticky-tape stuck over the VoIP port and more importantly the firmware has had the VoIP functionality removed.
2wire firmware is only issued through telcos — it can’t be downloaded directly from the manufacturer’s website.
BigPond spokesman Craig Middleton said “it’s called ‘future proofing’ a product … for if or when Telstra might offer a VoIP service.”
When APC asked how customers could get access to the VoIP functionality in the modem they’d paid for Middleton responded: “My TV has capacity for 100 Free to air channels but I only get five. Can Sony send me a 95% refund?”
“How can you pay for a service we don’t provide? Customers are not paying for VoIP functionality because we don’t offer it.”
We tried a third time to point out to Middleton that customers would no doubt find the ability to use another VoIP provider like MyNetFone or Engin very useful and asked how customers could get the firmware version that would allow them to do this but the response from BigPond was a deafening silence.