Telstra customers will soon have access to one of the world's largest Wi-Fi networks after the company launched a $100 million strategy to build 8000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the country.
The strategy aims to offer all Australians access to two million Wi-Fi hotspots across the nation within five years.
The network, which is scheduled to launch early 2015, will also reach overseas allowing people to connect at more than 12 million international hotspots, as part of an exclusive deal, recently concluded, with global Wi-Fi provider, Fon.
Wi-Fi networks typically use copper and fibre as backhaul to carry web traffic to and from telephone exchanges, which means they can generally handle higher speed and larger loads then 3G and 4G wireless services. It also takes the data strain of mobile networks, ensuring it has better service.
As part of the strategy, Telstra will offer home broadband customers new gateways that allow them to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra Wi-Fi customers.
In exchange they can access their own home broadband allowance at Telstra hotspots across the nation.
The public and Telstra customers who have not joined the Wi-Fi community will be able to connect to Fon-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots for a small charge using day passes.
Over time Telstra Wi-Fi access will be offered to Telstra mobile-only customers, according to a company statement.
Telstra CEO, David Thodey said the plan would usher in a new era of Wi-Fi in Australia which would help meet current data needs and deliver future capacity for the explosion of traffic expected to be delivered over Wi-Fi.
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“Australians already have access to one of the world’s leading mobile networks offering fast, unparalleled coverage on the move," he said.
"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.”
The strategy will see Telstra build more than 8000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the country, to bring Wi-Fi internet to community areas and social precincts as well as shopping strips, business centres and transport hubs.
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It will work with thousands of small businesses to bring Wi-Fi to cafes, shops and waiting rooms – putting them on the map as a destination where customers can connect.
It will partner councils, business enterprises and governments to bring municipal Wi-Fi to parks, stadiums and public buildings, and to help create 'smart cities.'
Customers who have compatible devices will have access to the combined Telstra Wi-Fi network whenever it’s available using an automatic log in.
Thodey said Telstra was keen to work in partnership with local councils and enterprises to grow its Wi-Fi network in Australia’s largest cities and regional centres.
“The opportunities go beyond connecting people," he said.
"The city-wide availability of Wi-Fi coupled with the growth in the internet of things can help us improve the way we live in cities.
"Town planning, sustainability, traffic management, maintenance, public safety and the provision of government services are just some of the challenges that can be tackled by connecting sensors and objects with networks.
"This is an incredible opportunity and we are already in discussions with a number of councils to make smart cities a reality.”
Thodey said all Australians would stand to benefit from the network.
“Today more than 20 million devices are connected to the mobile internet in Australia," he said.
"This investment helps us connect the next 20 million and create an environment where our customers can read the news over breakfast at home, upload photos to Facebook while waiting for a train, check email between meetings at a local cafe and load match scores at the big game at night – all over Telstra Wi-Fi.”
“The network will be built by Telstra, but brought to life, in part, by our customers and we’re really looking forward to watching it grow.
"It will be a living community, steadily growing; house by house, street by street, business by business leveraging the capacity we continue to add to our core fibre network, as well as the NBN as it is rolled out to customers.”