What is Telstra Air? How to use the Telstra Wi-Fi Hotspot network

Alex Kidman 15 March 2017

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Telstra’s nationwide Wi-Fi network provides fast broadband access from thousands of hotspots across Australia.

Telstra provides communication services for millions of Australians, whether through classical fixed phone lines, Telstra Mobile phone services or wireless or fixed line Telstra broadband plans. Within Australia the odds are pretty good that you’ve either been a Telstra customer, or you are a Telstra customer currently.

It’s the big provider of network communication services in the country, with every other provider playing catchup in one way or another. Telstra positions itself as the premium network provider in Australia, although it’s certainly not without its competitors.

Telstra Air is a good example of an additional service open to most Telstra customers that differentiates its service offerings from those of its competitors.

What is Telstra Air?

Telstra Air is the marketing name of Telstra’s network of Wi-Fi enabled hotspots for mobile data provision. Telstra uses a mix of its own installed hotspots across the nation as well as customer fixed line broadband modems that connect up to the Telstra Air network to form a nationwide mesh of availability.

While Telstra enjoys the widest 4G LTE availability in Australia, Telstra Air gives it another method of getting data services out to its customers. Because the hotspot points rely on fixed line connections, they can sometimes be a better bet than a 4G LTE network in a congested network environment, although as with all things wireless, experiences can vary.

How much does Telstra Air cost?

Telstra currently pitches Telstra Air as a value-add for its existing customers. What that means in pricing terms is that if you’re on a qualifying Telstra service, Telstra Air access is provided at no charge. For its history so far, Telstra has offered effectively unlimited Telstra Air access to its customers, although always with a proposed end date for access. At the time of writing free Wi-Fi data on Telstra Air is set to expire on 27 March 2018, but that’s qualified with the statement "unless offer is extended".

Outside of the free Wi-Fi offer, strictly speaking, your access to Telstra Air depends on the specifics of which Telstra services you have. If you have a Telstra home broadband service, you can access Telstra Air if you have a compatible Telstra Home Gateway. Specifically, that needs to be a Gateway that allows your home broadband service to form part of the wider Telstra Air network. What this means in practical terms is that a small part of your incoming broadband bandwidth is reserved for Telstra Air. You’re not giving strangers access to your home Wi-Fi, but simply providing effective "guest" style access. In return for doing so, Telstra provides access not only to Telstra Air within Australia, but also to "fon" branded hotspots across the world.

For Telstra Home Broadband customers using Telstra Air, your usage on Air is counted against your home broadband usage quota. That includes any usage of services that would otherwise be unmetered when used from your home connection, such as Bigpond Movies or Telstra’s AFL, NRL or Netball streaming offerings. However as part of its free offer, from 28 March 2017 through to 27 March 2018, you won’t have to have remaining quota on your broadband plan in order to access Telstra Air while out and about, and all access will be free during this period for qualifying Telstra home broadband customers.

If you’re a customer on a Telstra contract mobile plan, you qualify for the "free" offer, although strictly speaking your contracted access is set at 10GB per month. In theory if Telstra opts to remove the free offer from its customers, that’s how much data you would have to use on Telstra Air. Unlike fixed broadband, however, that’s 10GB on top of whatever your contracted 4G LTE quota would be.

If you’re not a Telstra customer, you can purchase guest access to Telstra Air spots on a time-limited ad-hoc basis.

How can I find a Telstra Air hotspot?

You’ve got a couple of different ways of sniffing out your closest Telstra Air hotspot if you’re keen for some mobile Wi-Fi.

At a very simple level, you can check for Telstra Air availability from a compatible device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop by searching for the network, although Telstra’s own installed hotspots are rather easy to spot thanks to the vibrant pink Telstra Air branding. If you spot one of the increasingly few public phone booths with a pink top, that means that it’s also a Telstra Air hotspot.

Telstra also offers an app for iOS and Android that works for home broadband customers to automatically connect to Telstra Air hotspots when in range.

You can also query Telstra’s online hotspot checker to find Telstra Air hotspots by suburb or postcode. If you’re travelling internationally, fon also allows for location-based search so that you can scope out potential Wi-Fi locations before you travel.

  • Interested in a mobile plan with Telstra Air compatibility? Check out these Telstra iPhone 7 plans, all of which include Telstra Air access across the hotspot network:

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