Telstra Air – what is it?
Telstra Air is a public WiFi network provided by Telstra. The service is available free of charge to Telstra customers. And last year, Telstra actually opened free Telstra Access to non-customers as well, but that offer has since expired.
Telstra is the only telco to take on the feat of providing WiFi access throughout Australia so far. And what’s even more impressive is the global Telstra Air network – the telco have 19 million Telstra Air hot spots around the world, and 1 million in Australia.
To provide WiFi, Telstra uses phone booths throughout Australia as part of the 1 million Telstra Air hot spots in the country. As for who makes up the rest of the 1 million hot spots? Telstra home Internet service customers.
If you’re a Telstra Internet customer, your network is being shared with whoever is close by and wants to use the Telstra Air network. Telstra customers automatically broadcast two simultaneous WiFi hot spots, one of which is password protected for the home, and another that is public for anyone close by who wants to access Telstra Air.
While sharing your WiFi with random Internet users seems unsafe, Telstra assure customers that it is not – because the home WiFi is password protected. However, customers who remain concerned with security issues can opt out of Telstra Air, switching it on/off one time per calendar month.
How to use/connect Telstra Air
To use Telstra Air free of charge, you have to be a Telstra customer with one or more of the Telstra services below:
- SIM plan
- Home broadband
- Mobile broadband
But if you don’t have any of those Telstra services, you can still access Telstra Air by purchasing a guest pass on the Telstra website.
To get started:
- Activate any of the eligible Telstra services.
- When you’re in an area with a Telstra Air hotspot nearby, turn on your device’s WiFi connection and select Telstra Air.
- Log on with your ID and use Telstra Air on up to 3 different devices.
Using Telstra Air doesn’t affect your data allowance – it is completely free to eligible customers and provides unlimited data access. And if you share your WiFi with others as a Telstra Air hot spot, your data will not be affected either.
And as for non-eligible Telstra customers and non-customers, purchasing a Telstra Air guest pass is all that’s needed for unlimited access. Telstra offer four different time-based Telstra Air guest passes, ranging from $5 to $30 for 1 hour to 30 days of unlimited access. If you’re using the service on your mobile, you’ll get the best experience by downloading the Telstra Air app and logging in to the service that way.
Telstra Air coverage
Telstra Air coverage depends on whether or not you are close to one of their 1 million hot spots in Australia. These include Telstra broadband customers who share their home WiFi with Telstra Air, and business customers who do the same, and phone booths around the country.
One million hot spots is a lot, but it obviously leaves some black spots in some areas where there will be no Telstra Air service. If you find yourself in such a situation, then you would only have access to Telstra Air when you’re in range of a hot spot.
Telstra Air signals are quite strong, however. Some customers as far as 1.5km away from the nearest hot spot connect to Telstra Air easily.
Why is Telstra giving free access to Telstra Air?
There is no definitive answer as to why the telco giant gives free access to Telstra Air, but some inferences can be made.
First, Telstra Air is like a cooperative WiFi network – if you are a Telstra broadband customer, your home could be a Telstra Air hot spot. This means you are feeding the Telstra Air network, making it easier for the service to remain alive. In such a case, as a Telstra customer, getting access to Telstra Air free of charge seems quite fair and expected, and not a favour of any kind.
Second, Telstra collect your data when you use Telstra Air, and data in today’s world is precious and highly valuable to businesses of all types, especially telcos like Telstra.
Telstra claim they only collect aggregate data, specifically:
- Device names
- Data usage in megabytes
- Operating systems
- IP addresses and MAC addresses, and
- The location of hotspots that devices are connected to.
Telstra Air is unique. No other Australian phone company has been nice enough to offer free WiFi services similar to Telstra Air. It is also a ‘nice to have’ service. However, Telstra Air probably won’t sway people regarding whether or not to choose Telstra as their service provider.
Users should be aware that the way they use the service is monitored by Telstra. The sites they go to and the way they interact online produces insight into consumer wants and needs and Telstra sometimes sell that data. Finally, it’s always good to use a VPN in these situations to make sure you’re safe while browsing online.