Telstra is planning to rollout a national Wifi hotspot network for its customers around Australia and some parts of the world.
In a plan that is set to supplement the existing mobile data network, Telstra will be allowing subscribers to take part in what is tipped to be the nation’s largest WiFi network.
This will provide subscribers access to fast data services in some of the most populated areas in Australia with a new fleet of modems to be sent to homes and businesses taking part in the programme around Australia.
The idea is to have these modems in subscribers homes and businesses share some of the unused capacity with other Telstra customers nearby. Mobile data is great when you are moving around but getting onto reliable broadband when in range is better for video and other data-intensive tasks.
The plan looks at two sides of the equation. The broadband subscriber hosting the Wifi router and the subscriber accessing the Wifi router.
For the host, it should be pretty much business as usual as I expect them to get priority over hotspot subscribers ensuring it is business as usual for people at home. This is vital in ensuring hosts to take part in the programme.
For hotspot subscribers, getting access to a faster than 4G connection at a reasonable price is important and Wifi is one way to get it done.
What about security? Won’t hotspot subscribers have access to the hosts network?
It is possible to separate networks. This is what routers are good at. The right router should be able to manage this with the right configuration. In most cases networks can be separated by physically having different Wifi transceivers in the router or by splitting the host and subscriber networks with special addressing tricks which will put the two networks on separate logical networks that cannot access eachother.
What about the data usage for hosts? I would not want to pay for someone else’s use.
Nobody would want that. Telstra proposes to treat any data used by subscribers as excluded from the host’s data usage. There is also talk that hosts will also get cheaper or free access to the hotspot network when away from home.
How does this affect the NBN?
I think you may see telcos like Telstra push through NBN adoption to give the hotspot network extra capacity. Trying to provide a service in heavily used areas is not going to work on an unreliable ADSL service. I am hopeful that we will see this and many other projects drive the need for a true fiber to the premises broadband network in an effort to provide more reliable access to subscribers.