Telstra to spend $100m building national wi-fi network

Telstra wi-fiTelstra has announced it will create one of the world’s largest wi-fi networks, spending more than $100 million to build some two million hotspots in a move that will target both its own customers and the broader public.

The move, which will dramatically shake up the Australian wi-fi market, will likely also be a new source of revenue and user data for the telco which says it hopes to have the network up and running within five years.

In a statement, Telstra CEO David Thodey claimed it would be a major game changer for the evolving wi-fi market, allowing “our customers the unique option to seamlessly use their home broadband allowance inside and outside the home.”

The network is scheduled to launch in early 2015 and according to the announcement will also offer overseas access to wi-fi at more than 12 million international hotspots, as part of an exclusive deal recently concluded with global wi-fi provider Fon.

In the UK former government-owned telco BT offers a similar scheme to customers with five million wi-fi hotspots across the country, and six million globally in a partnership with Fon.

Telstra customers will have to agree to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra wi-fi customers to be part of the network, but in return will be able to access their own home broadband allowance at Telstra hotspots across the nation.

Non Telstra customers, and Telstra customers who have not joined the wi-fi network will be able to connect to Fon-enabled Telstra Wi-Fi hotspots for a charge using day passes.

The telco will also build more than 8,000 wi-fi hotspots around the country to bring wireless internet to community areas and social precincts as well as shopping strips, business centres and transport hubs.

It will also aim to work with thousands of small businesses to bring Telstra’s wi-fi networks to cafes, shops and other places where people gather, in a move that will substantially threaten other major wi-fi players such as independent SkyFii who have been growing in the space.

“We want Australia to be a truly connected country and as part of our plan, we are keen to work in partnership with local councils and enterprises to grow our Wi-Fi network in Australia’s largest cities and regional centres,” said Thodey.

“The opportunities go beyond connecting people. 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.”

Nic Christensen 


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