Telstra has opened up access to its Australia-wide Wi-Fi network, known as Telstra Air, giving mobile customers unlimited access to free Wi-Fi until June 2016. As an added bonus, existing Air customers on home broadband will also be able to use the Wi-Fi network over summer until next June without data usage counting towards their monthly broadband allowance.
The move will see Telstra's Air network opened up to a far broader user base, or "millions of customers" according to the telco.
Telstra first launched its nation-wide Wi-Fi network in November last year with a trial including roughly 1,000 public hotspots. Access was open to all Australians through specially fitted out Telstra pink payphones.
With the official launch of the Air network in June this year, Telstra limited access to home broadband customers with a dedicated, Air-enabled "Home Gateway" modem. By opening up their modem as a hotspot, these customers could access their home broadband allowance through other customers' Home Gateways, while also getting access to what was then more than 4,000 public connections.
With 300,000 customers now signed up to Telstra Air, the telco is still a way off the ambitious target it set of 2 million hotspots within 5 years. But the network is undoubtedly a point of difference for customers looking for a way to take advantage of high home broadband data limits whilst also easing the pressure their mobile data bill.
Now, after the early public trial, Telstra has opened the network up once more, albeit just for Telstra mobile customers. If you're on an "eligible" pre-paid or post-paid mobile plan (you can check eligibility on Telstra's site) you'll now be able to use the network of payphones and Home Gateway hotspots to get free and unlimited Wi-Fi.
Existing home broadband customers will still be able to access the network as they have since June this year, but now their data usage won't count towards their home broadband allowance, as long as they don't exceed that data limit at home.
According to Telstra's head of Wi-Fi Neil Louis, the telco is expecting customers to use "the data-equivalent of sending more than 50 million high-quality photos to post, browse, share and stream" on the network over this summer.
Louis said the Wi-Fi expansion is also being matched with a "massive upgrade" of Telstra's mobile network in "more than 70 holiday hotspots across the nation."