Telstra announces national Wi-Fi network - two million hotspots in five years

Telstra announces national Wi-Fi network - two million hotspots in five years
Image: Stewart Wilson/TechGeek

Image: Stewart Wilson/TechGeek

Telstra has confirmed rumours that it will create a national Wi-Fi network called “Telstra Wi-Fi”. Scheduled to launch in early 2015, it plans to have two million hotspots across the nation within five years and will be available to all – irrespective if you are a Telstra customer or not.

In order to create the network, Telstra will build more than 8000 hotspots across the country in social precincts and community areas – including in shopping strips and transport hubs. They will also pitch this service to small businesses; and will partner with councils and governments to bring hotspots to stadiums, parks and public buildings.

“Australians already have access to one of the world’s leading mobile networks offering fast, unparalleled coverage on the move. Telstra’s new Wi-Fi network will broaden the choice of connection giving people a convenient way to get online using their portable devices when spending time at a hotspot. It will offer our customers the unique option to seamlessly use their home broadband allowance inside and outside the home.” said Telstra’s CEO, David Thodey in a Media Release.

Their rollout plans also include offering new gateways to Telstra home broadband customers so they can share their bandwidth to Telstra Wi-Fi customers. The technology will allow for other users to utilise spare bandwidth available. Should the household start using their broadband service, any Telstra Wi-Fi customers will be disconnected. Those opting into the program will be allowed to use their home broadband data allowance at any Telstra hotspot.

The telco will be using technology from global Wi-Fi provider Fon. The partnership will also mean customers of Telstra Wi-Fi will be able to connect to the 12 million hotspot locations overseas that Fon provides – including in the UK, France, Germany, Russia and Japan. The service will be provided for no extra charge, however, will count towards your monthly broadband allowance.

The service will be rolled out from early 2015 and will most likely require an upgrade to a newer modem. However, The telco said that 500,000 customers already have compatible modems and will only require a software upgrade to participate in the program. For those without a compatible modem, Telstra will be offering the Telstra Gateway Max which supports NBN, ADSL, Cable and possibly 4G. The gateway is also the world’s first cable modem to have integrated 802.11ac, the new Wi-Fi standard capable of reaching speeds of up to a gigabit or more.

Initially, the service will only be available for Telstra home broadband customers. Customers will have to opt-in to the service and share their broadband connection which will then allow them to use the other hotspots available. Non Telstra customers or customers that choose not to opt-in will be able to use the service for a small charge using day passes. Additionally, Telstra mobile-only customers will eventually get access to the service – however, Telstra haven’t provided a specific date.

You can register your interest or find out more information on the Telstra website.

This article was a joint effort between Chris Southcott, Stewart Wilson (both in Sydney), and Terence Huynh (in Melbourne).

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