Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Telstra and WiFi

Not terribly surprising news today that Telstra is to invest $100M is building "public" WiFi.

Well, it is not really public WiFi - it is a WiFi network open to all Telstra subscribers. In doing so it is partnering with Fon which advertises it has over 12 million WiFi points. The process is easy - because the network piggy-backs off all their customers private connections and uses duplicate SSID's - one for the customer's own network and one for the WiFi.

Telstra will not use a line if it isn't providing better than 3 Mbps.

This is not a new development - as shown by Fon's base. By partnering with Fon Telstra is opening up access to that network for its customers.

Supratim Adhikari writing for Business Spectator opines that this is all about matching Vodafone - because they are concerned Vodafone's relatively unloaded network can provide a better data experience. However, he also notes the reports from Telsyte in the stalling of data only sales with customers preferring to tether their handset. That causes a problem for Vodafone, because the handset choice is more driven by the availability of voice coverage at the margin than is a data device.

Allie Coyne in itNews notes that Telstra only two years ago closed down an earlier hotspot network. However, as noted that network had been carefully designed to not cannibalise the 3G network.

The whole point of the new play IS to cannibalise the mobile data network - or more correctly to avoid the need for even greater investment in increasing the capacity of the mobile networks. This is not a response to VHA as such, it is just the cheapest response Telstra can make to maintaining network quality.

There is a side benefit that it significantly enhances the data proposition for devices when roaming.

The only surprise with this announcement is how long it took to get here. As I said this isn't new.

The consequence will be the continuing growth of data usage per fixed connection and very little mobile. Just imagine how good that WiFi network would be if the fixed lines people connected to were NBN FTTP links!

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