Telstra’s announced that its much-hyped national Wi-Fi hotspot network will start up in November, focused around payphone locations.
Remember payphones? Telstra certainly does, but then it would, what with having a level of service obligation to provide them. They’ll also, as per a Telstra release, form the basis of the company’s first free Wi-Fi hotspots as part of a rollout first announced back in May.
Telstra is spending $100 million to roll out an eventual 8,000 hotspots across the country, something that won’t formally launch until next year. This is just the first phase of the scheme, and in the tradition of certain industries, the first taste will be free.
Access at the new sites will be free until some point next year, when the full rollout commences, and will, according to Telstra’s release, cover 1,000 sites including
- Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne
- Bondi Beach, Sydney
- Rundle Mall, Adelaide
- Queen Street Mall, Brisbane
- Elizabeth Street, Hobart
- Civic Centre, Canberra
- Hay Street Mall, Perth CBD
- Smith Street Mall, Darwin
The eventual plan is that Telstra customers will offer their own broadband connections to passers-by in return for free access at any other Wi-Fi hotspot, which has interesting load implications for Telstra’s mobile network as a whole; in general you’d be better off for consistent access from a fixed line (cable, ADSL, NBN) connection than you would a fully mobile (3G,4G) connection, but every customer jumping off 3G/4G would theoretically improve conditions for those still on such connections.
Non-Telstra customers would be offered access, but for a fixed fee. That’s one of the more interesting sides of this deal, given that while “free” Wi-Fi isn’t exactly ubiquitous, it’s also not all that hard to find in a lot of more populous areas.