Telstra is set to roll out what could be the world's largest Wi-Fi networks as part of a $100 million-plus strategy to increase connectivity in public places.
The new network that sucks unused data from home networks without compromising home speeds or performance will be free to Telstra customers, however data use will be credit against home or business data allowances. A non Telstra customer will be able to access the network for a daily fee.
Currently Telstra has 3M homes where data could be sucked from using a unique technology that is already in use in Spain, the UK and Greece where 10M people are attached to the hot spot network.
The network, 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.
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.
"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."
To create the network Telstra will:
. Offer Telstra home broadband customers new gateways that allow them to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra Wi-FiT customers. In exchange they can access their own home broadband allowance at Telstra hotspots across the nation.
. 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 centers and transport hubs.
. Work with thousands of small businesses to bring Telstra Wi-Fi to cafes, shops and waiting rooms - putting them on the map as a destination where customers can connect.
. Partner with councils, business enterprises and governments to bring Wi-Fi to parks, stadiums and public buildings and to help create smart cities.
. Provide customers who have compatible devices with seamless access to the combined Telstra Wi-Fi network wherever it's available using an automatic log in.
"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," Mr Thodey said.
"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."
With the majority of portable device traffic now delivered over Wi-Fi in the home or via hotspots, Mr 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. 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."
Australians will be able to access Telstra Wi-Fi in a number of ways:
. Telstra home broadband customers with a compatible gateway who join the Wi-Fi community can use their broadband allowance at no extra charge via domestic hotspots and connect to more than 12 million Fon-enabled hotspots globally.
. Non Telstra customers and Telstra customers who have not joined the Wi-Fi community will be able to connect to Fon-enabled Telstra Wi-Fi hotspots for a small charge using day passes.
. The investment will enable partners to offer public Wi-Fi to patrons, visitors and communities.
. Over time Telstra Wi-Fi access will be offered to Telstra mobile-only customers.
Australians can register their details to receive more information about Telstra Wi-Fi as it's released by heading to www.Telstra.com/wifination.