Telstra in Australia has finally rolled out its 1 million plus WiFi hotspot deployment, built mostly around FON Homespots, and naturally, as part of the FON global network is saying that it joins a community of 15 million FONspots around the world. FON is the Spanish software operation which came up with the idea for home broadband uses to “share” their home broadband capacity through WiFi.
Telstra has promised to get this number up to “millions” within 5 years, by which it means over 2 million. It has around 3.7 million broadband customers, and Faultline would calculate that some 2.5 million of those are devices which can have a FONspot downloaded, creating a second SSID under the control of the Australian Telco.
We have been expecting it to roll out to around half of these by launch day, and slowly add other models. A Homespot is a home gateway that has WiFi built in which has the processing and memory capacity to run an additional SSID, which means there is one private hotspot for the home and another for Telstra, sharing the backhaul capacity. FON has similar deals with British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and KPN in the Netherlands and many other European Telcos.
Telstra will combine these Homespots in a network with radio planned commercial hotspots, and says these will reach 8,000 within the same 5 year period, from what we estimate to be 2,000 today. These will cover downtown areas of most major cities.
The whole service is called Telstra Air, and existing Telstra customers will be able to use these hotspots for free, as well as any FON hotspots around the world in countries such as the UK, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, France and Germany.
We anticipate that both Optus and iiNet, which are ISPs both just under the 1 million mark in Australia, will be tempted to do the same with their home gateways as soon as they can, in order to compete with Telstra.