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Vote for where you want Telstra's new public Wi-Fi hotspots

Telstra will more than double the number of hotspots in its public Wi-Fi network, and the telco is asking Australians to vote on where they want Wi-Fi access the most.

A Telstra public Wi-Fi hotspot, built into a public phone in Sydney. Claire Reilly/CNET

Telstra has extended the timeline for the free trial of its public Wi-Fi network and announced that it will more than double the number of hotspots around the country, with customers offered the chance to vote on where new Wi-Fi hotspots should be rolled out.

Trials for the network began in November last year, when Telstra switched on 150 free hotspots. The telco plans to create Australia's largest public Wi-Fi network, eventually expanding the number of hotspots to 2 million within 5 years.

Although Telstra planned to stop providing free access to the public Wi-Fi when the network was officially launched (set for "early" this year), customers will now be able to access the network for free until June.

There are also 1,500 new hotspots being added to the existing network of 1,100 switched on since November, with Telstra promising that regional Australia will be the "big winner". There are also plans to bring free Wi-Fi to Telstra's network of 80 retail stores "later this year."

In a bid to get customers on board with the new rollout, Telstra is offering users the chance to vote on where some of the new Wi-Fi sites should be located.

"We want the community to be a part of the rollout and are giving them a chance to tell us where we should be switching on 500 of the new sites," said Gordon Ballantyne, group executive of Telstra Retail. "We have a list of areas where we think Australians might like to use Wi-Fi but we want to know for sure by asking people where they would like the next Wi-Fi hotspots switched on."

Users can go to Telstra's website to vote, with Ballantyne saying it will help the telco to establish "which hotspot locations will really help people connect in regional areas around Australia."

Telstra says more than 1 million unique devices have connected to the existing network, with more than 270TB of data downloaded since November.