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Telstra doubles national Wi-Fi trial with 1,500 new hotspots

Telstra is doubling the footprint of its national Wi-Fi trial, switching on a further 1,500 hotspots across the country.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Telstra is switching on a further 1,500 new hotspots in its national Wi-Fi network, effectively doubling the footprint of its free public Wi-Fi trial.

The telco announced on Wednesday that the additional hotspots would be brought online, following an overwhelming response to the first wave of its free public Wi-Fi trial.

Telstra kicked off the free trial of its national public Wi-Fi network in November last year, activating 150 sites around Australia fitted with Wi-Fi hotspots, and at least 100 towns and cities around the country receiving hotspots as of Christmas last year.

The company's public Wi-Fi network was first announced in May, and is set to be rolled out across Australia over the next three years at a cost of over AU$100 million.

Telstra is looking to roll out approximately 8,000 hotspots across the country, using existing infrastructure such as public payphones to accommodate the Wi-Fi routers.

According to Telstra, more than 1 million unique devices around the country have connected to the Wi-Fi network under the free trial so far, exceeding the company's expectations. In response to this uptake, Telstra is extending the length of its free trial period.

As part of the expansion of its trial, which it is running up until June, Telstra said it wants to bring hotspots to an additional 60 towns and suburbs.

Once the free trial period is over, Telstra will officially launch the paid service, which will see non-Telstra customers pay a fee to access the network, and will eventually see the inclusion of Telstra customers' home Wi-Fi networks, with the company's Gateway Max modems possessing the functionality to allow a home network to be used as a public hotspot for others in range.

Telstra Wi-Fi program lead Peter Ager said at the launch of the free trial network last year that although the trial public network is unsecured, the company would look at solutions to protect users' data.

"We are working through a security solution for the Wi-Fi network, but that won't be ready probably until the second quarter of next calendar year," he said at the time.

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