Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has announced that its plans to create what it claims will be the country’s largest Wi-Fi network are a step closer to being realised, with it confirming that it expects the first 1,000 hotspots to be switched on for trials before Christmas 2014.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2014 Telstra said it would it spend AUD100 million (USD92.5 million) as part of a programme intended to boost connectivity across the country. Under the company’s plans it aims to offer all Australians, not just its own customers, access to two million Wi-Fi hotspots within five years. In addition to domestic coverage, Telstra expects to offer access overseas via more than twelve million international hotspots, as part of a deal it concluded with global Wi-Fi provider, Fon. To create the domestic infrastructure, Telstra said a number of actions would be taken, including offering Telstra home broadband customers new gateways which will allow them to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra Wi-Fi customers, in exchange for which they can access their own home broadband allowance at Telstra hotspots across the nation. More than 8,000 Wi-Fi hotspots will also be constructed across the country, meanwhile, with a view to bringing connectivity to community areas and social precincts as well as shopping strips, business centres and transport hubs.
In the latest development Gordon Ballantyne, group executive at Telstra Retail, noted that from November 2014 Australians would be able to trial free Wi-Fi at some of the country’s ‘most iconic locations’, stating: ‘From Bondi Beach in Sydney to the retail hubs of Bourke Street Mall and Queen Street Mall in Melbourne and Brisbane we have selected some of this summer’s most popular destinations for our trial which will launch in November … It is not just Central Business District (CBD) locations that are set to benefit from this trial. Regional Australia will also form a major part of Australia’s biggest Wi-Fi network with a focus on regional hubs and tourist destinations in the first 1,000 sites.’ Access to Wi-Fi will be free at the trial sites until the network officially launches early next year.