Telstra has cancelled subscription plans for its urban wireless hotspots as it continues to push business customers towards its Next G data and voice network.
From October, Telstra will no longer offer subscription bundles which provide discounted rates for access to its Wi-Fi. The network has hotspots deployed widely across the Sydney and Melbourne CBD, as well as in branches of McDonald's and Starbucks, and the Accor, Rydges and Constellation hotel chains.
The change is the result of a product review conducted as part of Telstra's broader "transformation journey", according to a letter sent to subscribers of the service.
Telstra will now only offer a casual access rate of 20 cents per minute plus a 25 cent connection fee, which can be billed to a postpaid mobile phone. Casual credit card payments for non-Telstra phones are charged even higher rates, starting from AU$5 for 15 minutes.
Telstra is not withdrawing the hotspot network, which uses the widely-adopted 802.11 standard. However, it wants to attract more customers to its Next G mobile network.
"If you use the Internet frequently, and would like to access the Internet from your PC in more places, then upgrading to Telstra's Next G network could deliver you even better value," the letter claims, although Telstra does not outline Next G's pricing model in the note to customers.
It could prove equally pricey, however. Next G users require a separate data card, while access to the network is priced from around 1.5 cents per kilobyte, depending on usage.
One compensating factor for regular Wi-Fi users is that Qantas is no longer charging customers in its Qantas Club lounges to use the Telstra wireless hotspot service.
Telstra still runs the PC and wireless network in the lounges but, until earlier this year, visitors were still required to pay an access fee on their own machines, though access was free on the PCs installed in the club for general use.
Telstra has spent AU$1 billion building the Next G network, and has resisted calls to wholesale the service or reduce data prices. Last week, it was rapped over the knuckles by the ACCC for exaggerating the reach of the Next G network in marketing and advertising materials.