Telstra has announced a massive new Wi-Fi hotspot network that will be rolled out across Australia over the next four years and cost over AU$100 million.
The network will launch in early 2015, with Telstra looking to roll out around 8,000 hotspots across the country, and the company hopes to get approximately 2 million new Fon-enabled modems in the homes of its fixed line customers that can share their connection as part of the public Wi-Fi network.
Telstra CEO David Thodey said at the announcement of the network that Telstra would first determine whether a connection was compatible with the Wi-Fi network, and he said that it would work across ADSL, cable, NBN, and 4G. The public Wi-Fi network will not impact on a customer's home speeds, according to Thodey.
"It gives you your Wi-Fi access to the internet, but it takes the spectrum that is really being unused, and creates a community," he said.
Speeds will be around 2Mbps download.
Access to the network will be free for Telstra's fixed line customers when accessing the Wi-Fi network outside their home, but downloads will count towards the customer's home line quota.
Non-Telstra customers will pay a "small daily fee", Thodey said.
Telstra will spend around AU$50 million on installing the core infrastructure around Australia, with the remaining AU$50 million to be spent on partnering with other businesses to build out the network.
Telstra's previous venture into public wi-fi ended in 2007 due to a low take-up rate. Thodey said today that at the time, the technology wasn't advanced enough.
"The take-up wasn't that great. That was what was then called 802.11b," he said.
"Now you've got this AC technology that allows far better usage, greater throughput and importantly better coverage in buildings."
Thodey said that the network wasn't designed to undermine Telstra's existing cellular network.
"The cellular network is great if you're on the move, but if you're sitting down watching a few movies, it's a different type of access," he said.
"We still think the cellular mobile network will have a great future. We want this to be really successful. We just want people to have a great connected experience."
More to come