Telstra to switch off free wi-fi hotspots from Sunday

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Telstra to switch off free wi-fi hotspots from Sunday

No more free browsing for non-home broadband users.

Telstra will start turning off its free wi-fi hotspots from Sunday in preparation for the official launch of its national wi-fi network, which it will charge non-Telstra home broadband customers a fee to access.

The telco announced its plans to build a $100 million international wi-fi network within five years mid last year. The network will include 8000 Telstra-built wi-fi hotspots located in old pay phones and a planned 1.9 million hotspots offered by its home broadband customers.

It has also partnered with wi-fi provider Fon to offer 12 million hotspots internationally.

Telstra switched on the first trial wi-fi hotspot sites in November last year, and April extended the trial to include 1500 more sites. As at the end of the trial, Telstra was testing out 2600 sites nationally.

The trial sites had been offered free to any user for 30 minutes.

But the free browsing will come to an end when Telstra switches off the trial sites progressively from Sunday in preparation for the network's official launch. The sites will be offline "for a short period" while Telstra upgrades the hotspots for launch.

Once the network is up and running, only Telstra home broadband customers will be able to access the Telstra-built hotspots for free. All others will be charged a fee.

"More details about the launch date, network footprint and how Australians will be able to join the service will be announced ahead of the switch-on in the coming weeks," a Telstra spokesperson said.

More than 1.5 million unique devices connected to the network during the trial, Telstra wi-fi network project lead Neil Louise said in a blog post.

The telco is relying on its home broadband customers to share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra customers in exchange for similar access to make up the remaining 1.9 million hot spots throughout the country.

Those who join the “wi-fi community” will be able to use their broadband allowance at no extra charge across the network of international and domestic hot spots.

Interested customers will need to purchase a gateway and wi-fi range extender for $210. 

The modems - which are already fitted with Fon technology - will offer a software update once the network is live which will allow broadband users to join the wi-fi network. The gateways will broadcast a SSID for the user’s home network and a second signal for the wi-fi hot spot.

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