Telstra to celebrate World Wi-Fi Day with free Wi-Fi

Media Release, 21 June 2016

To celebrate the first ever World Wi-Fi Day on Monday 20 June, Telstra is joining with some of the world’s leading technology organisations to give hundreds of millions of people across the globe access to free Wi-Fi.

From Friday 17 June to Monday 20 June, anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone, tablet or other device will be able to surf, share or stream for free at more than 400,000 Wi-Fi hotspots around Australia on the nation’s largest national Wi-Fi network Telstra Air.

Stuart Bird, Telstra Executive Director Fixed Products and Services, said in the almost 20 years since Wi-Fi was introduced it’s become an indispensable part of Australian life.

“Wi-Fi is the great Australian invention that untethered the internet and transformed the way we go about our daily lives. It’s supported an explosion in connected devices at home, made it possible to work outside the office and helped grow our cafe culture. And it’s made some of our favourite pursuits like watching live sport and shopping centre visits interactive,” Mr Bird said.

“When Telstra became the first Australian telco to launch a Wi-Fi enabled modem for the home in 2005, it was considered ground breaking. Aptly named the ‘Telstra Modem’, it was the first in Australia to come with a self-install kit to make it easy for customers set up functions such as security.”

Today more than three million Australians use public Wi-Fi hotspots to complement their mobile internet access and more than nine in ten Telstra home broadband customers have Wi-Fi at home.

Mr Bird said since its launch a year ago, Telstra Air had grown rapidly to reach thousands of neighbourhoods across Australia.

“As Australia’s largest Wi-Fi network, Telstra Air is helping to make Wi-Fi available in even more places across the nation. Already, hundreds of thousands of customers have signed up to the network. And many customers are telling us it’s making it faster and easier to get online when they’re out and about.”

“We want more Australians to understand the benefits of public Wi-Fi by offering free access to everyone, regardless of which service provider they are with, at public Telstra Air locations for World Wi-Fi day,” Mr Bird added.

Telstra home broadband customers with an eligible service and compatible gateway can join Telstra Air to access their home broadband data allowance when out and about at thousands of hotspots in Australia and more than 19 million hotspots overseas as part of Telstra's partnership with Fon, and it doesn’t count towards their home allowance until 30 September.

Telstra mobile customers can also access Telstra Air for free at more than 400,000 locations across Australia until 30 September.

Telstra is the Australian partner of the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s inaugural Wi-Fi Day, which is a global event to recognise and celebrate the significant role Wi-Fi is playing in getting cities and communities around the world connected. Global partners include Fon, at&t, BT, Spark, Google and Cisco.

How Australia’s love-affair with Wi-Fi developed

  • 1992: A CSIRO team created ‘multipathing’ – a system that allowed for faster and more reliable wireless internet connection, and paved the way for Wi-Fi as we know it today.
  • 1996: CSIRO patents the multipathing technique in the US, then known as IEEE 802.11.
  • 1999: The term ‘Wi-Fi’ entered the popular lexicon when the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (now Wi-Fi Alliance) enlisted Interbrand to come up with a catchier name for 'IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence'.
  • July 2003: Telstra launches Telstra Wireless Hotspots – an early public Wi-Fi network designed to keep business types connected at hotels, airport lounges, coffee shops and commercial precincts.
  • Late 2004: The Nokia 9500 became Telstra’s first Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone. It came with a 0.3MP video recorder, could send and receive faxes and sported a full QWERTY keyboard.
  • March 2005: Telstra became the first Australian ISP to launch Wi-Fi enabled modems for homes – Since then, the number of Australians with fixed internet access has more than doubled from 6 million in 2005 to 12.9 million in 2015.
  • March 2014: Telstra partners with ANZ Stadium in Sydney to bring free Wi-Fi to fans in 83,000 seats. This included a stadium app and the industry’s first Connected Lounge providing exclusive hospitality with big-screen entertainment and premium content. Telstra now connects fans with free Wi-Fi at the SCG, Etihad Stadium, Allianz Stadium and Perth Stadium.
  • April 2014: Telstra announces its vision to build one of the world’s largest Wi-Fi networks as part of a $100 million-plus strategy to increase connectivity in the places Australians live, work and visit.
  • June 2015: Australia’s largest Wi-Fi network, Telstra Air, launches allowing customers to access their home broadband allowance when they’re out and about at more than 250 towns and cities across Australia and 15 countries around the world.
  • June 2016: More than 70 Wi-Fi operators and carriers, technology providers, cities and industry forums will partake in global celebrations for the World Broadband Alliance’s inaugural World Wi-Fi Day