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Telstra breaks into Sydney Airport

Telstra has belatedly plugged one of the more obvious holes in its nationwide wireless hotspot network after gaining access to the international terminal at Sydney Airport.When Telstra first rolled out its wireless hotspot program in 2003, it heavily promoted the service's availability in Qantas Club lounges across Australia.

Telstra has belatedly plugged one of the more obvious holes in its nationwide wireless hotspot network after gaining access to the international terminal at Sydney Airport.

When Telstra first rolled out its wireless hotspot program in 2003, it heavily promoted the service's availability in Qantas Club lounges across Australia.

However, a policy dispute with Sydney Airport Corporation (SAC) left it locked out of the international terminal and a potentially lucrative audience of high-spending business travellers with WiFi-equipped notebooks.

SAC's official policy is to encourage availability from multiple providers, ensuring that travellers from different countries have a good chance of roaming onto a network they already subscribe to. In practice, however, only subscribers to Optus' wireless hotspot service could gain access from the international terminal until recently.

Matt Babidge, product manager for the wireless hotspot program, confirmed that Telstra's service had become available within the international airport in the last week.

The delay had been caused by the need for a separate deal with SAC for the site. "It was a bit of a gruelling negotiation," he said.

Babidge said usage of the wireless services had been steadily increasing since their introduction, although he declined to provide figures. In May, Telstra launched a monthly subscription option for frequent users who balked at the charges for the casual service, which start at a minimum of $5 for 15 minutes plus 20 cents for each additional minute. US rates are far lower; T-Mobile, for instance, offers a $US29.99 a month plan for unlimited access, as well as $US9.99 'daypasses' which give 24 hours access.