Telstra wi-fi put to the test by over 700k users

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Telstra wi-fi put to the test by over 700k users

Over 140TB delivered wirelessly.

More than 700,000 individuals have taken part in Telstra’s $100 million public wi-fi network trial since its launch in November, the carrier has revealed.

In the same period, the network - which currently consists of over 1000 hotspots - has been used to transmit over 140 terabytes of data, Telstra told iTnews.

Telstra has been running the trial at selected sites in major capital CBDs as a free service, but it will start imposing charges to access the network after its commercial launch later this year.

The trial put Telstra’s ability to implement wi-fi networks to the test - a number of technology specialists had previously raised concerns that the recent explosion in commercial wi-fi networks would put excessive strain on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz public spectrum bands.

Telstra spokesman Steve Carey said the trial had not given any indication that the bands were under stress.

“While we’ve handled significant traffic we haven’t seen major congestion,” Carey said. 

“To date the trial has validated many of our network design assumptions. We don’t expect to make any major design changes for the full rollout at this time."

Australia's communications and media watchdog ACMA, meanwhile, continues to take a cautious approach to the issue.

The authority said it supported commercial carriers’ use of public wi-fi bands to offload traffic on mobile spectrum “in principle”.

It conceded that there was potential for wi-fi traffic to become congested in areas densely populated with access points – meaning private home wi-fi router performance would degrade – but said it was unlikely that they would become saturated.

“Normally, the performance of wi-fi systems degrade as more access points are activated in a localised area," an ACMA spokesperson said.

"The term ‘saturated’ however implies a wi-fi system stop working completely, which while possible, is at the extreme end of the spectrum of potential impacts. But in short, the impact would depend on the circumstances in the specific area."

Telstra did not reveal a date for its commercial launch of the wi-fi network.

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