Telstra to switch on 1500 more hotspots in wi-fi trial

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Telstra to switch on 1500 more hotspots in wi-fi trial

Service to remain free until June.

Telstra will switch on 1500 additional hotspots as part of an extension to a trial of its proposed national wi-fi network before June, the telco announced today.

Last May the telco revealed plans to spend more than $100 million to build a national wi-fi network before the end of 2015.

The network is slated to include around 8000 Telstra-built hotspots (utilising the national payphone network) and a further 1.9 million wi-fi access points provided by its customers.

The first 1100 hotspots - a trial of the planned network - were switched on late last year.

Telstra today said it would expand the trial by 1500 hotspots, bringing the connectivity to an extra 60 locations on top of the 250 already using the trial 1100 hotspots.

It will also continue to offer the service to browsers for free until June. The trial had initially been scheduled to finish "at the end of summer".

Once officially launched, the network will only be free to Telstra home broadband customers. Anyone else will be charged a "small" fee to access the network.

The telco is giving citizens the opportunity to vote for where 500 of the new hotspots should be located.

More than one million unique devices have connected to existing hotspots and downloaded more than 270TB of data since the sites were switched on in November, Telstra retail chief Gordon Ballantyne said.

Telstra also said it will bring wi-fi to its 80 national retail stores later this year.

Telstra's wi-fi network plans also involve establishing an international network of 12 million hotspots thanks to a partnership with wi-fi provider Fon.

The telco itself will build 8000 wi-fi hotspots locally, and will rely on its home broadband customers to share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra customers to make up the remaining 1.9 million hot spots throughout the country.

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