Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, will install two million public hotspots that will be available for free to Telstra subscribers as part of a plan to blanket public spaces with internet access.
Trials of the $100m project will begin by November, reports The Guardian, and will allow Telstra customers who agree to share their bandwidth to get free access to any hotspot. The data they use will be deducted from their home allowance.
Non-Telstra customers, and those who don’t share their home connection, will be able to connect for an as yet undisclosed fee.
Many of the hotspots will be repurposed public phones which are mostly located in busy areas.
The trial will include busy spots such as Bondi Beach in Sydney, Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne and Rundle Mall in Adelaide. Popular holiday spots and parts of Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin will also be included.
Some 1,000 hotspots should be operational by Christmas at sites that will include Telstra shops and exchange buildings.
Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is a nation-wide, wholesale-only, open-access fiber data network delivering fixed line and wireless broadband connections that are sold to retail service providers, who then sell Internet access and other services to consumers.
The 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz radio spectrum will be used to provide LTE fixed wireless covering approximately 4 per cent of the population outside the fibre footprint. NBN Co has also contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build and launch two Ka band satellites in 2015 at a total cost of A$2 billion, for more rural areas.
The cost, estimated at A$37.4 billion, will be financed by a combination of a Federal Government investment of A$30.4 billion and private investment for the remainder. NBN Co intends to begin paying dividends back to the Federal Government in 2021, and to have fully repaid the Government’s contribution by 2034.
The concept is similar to those planned by Comcast and AT&T in North America. AT&T has built a network of free hotspots for customers at thousands of places—including train stations, as well as Starbucks and McDonald’s locations across the country. Comcast’s Xfinity wireless network turns customer’s cable modems into public Wi-Fi hotspots accessible with an Xfinity account login.
In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.
Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:
- The “CableWiFi” network identifier (SSID) allows devices to auto-connect to a “CableWiFi” hotspot when in range. Comcast alone will install eight million Xfinity WiFi hotspots by the end of the year available in public locations across the country, from shopping centers, commuter stations, parks and sporting venues. Xfinity Homes will now contain two SSIDs, enabling consumer cable WiFi boxes to “share” their WiFi, helping the MSOs compete with mobile carriers.
- Facebook Wi-Fi is a partnership between Cisco and Facebook that allows Wi-Fi users to log into access points, using Facebook credentials. Facebook said it had 819 million monthly mobile users (73%) out of its total 1.15 billion users in Q2 2013. It’s primarily driven by advertising revenue although partner Gowex declared bankruptcy.
- Europe’s Fon WiFi community. Uses a $59 Fonera WiFi router. Fon claims to have the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with over eight million hotspots as at July 2013.
- Boingo launched “Passpoint Secure” networks at more than 20 airports throughout the United States using the Cisco Hotspot 2.0 network. Cisco, AT&T and Accuris partnered to bring a Hotspot 2.0 network to MWC 2014 this year.
- iPass has launched a cloud-based Business Traveler Service 2.0, marking iPass’ transformation into a cloud company utilizing a Software-as-a-Service delivery model, coupled with an app based approach. The service is available at 3,000 airports, 22 airlines, hotels and public areas worldwide. A single log-in enables users to obtain automatic access and authentication on smartphones, tablets and laptops in over 120 countries.
- Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in cities covered by Google Fiber. The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.
- Google is apparently planning to offer subsidized, commercial-grade Wi-Fi hardware to small and medium-sized businesses, reports TechCrunch, including doctors’ offices, restaurants, and gyms. A Hotspot 2.0 feature would streamline signing in. The hardware would be the only cost involved, and use the businesses’ existing Internet connections, unlike the Google-provided Wi-Fi networks running at Starbucks.
Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network:
Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time. Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit with MU-MIMO but enterprise and carrier-grade gear could be a year away, say industry observers.
The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.
The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.
These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).
Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network
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