Is Telstra hotspots a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

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Is Telstra hotspots a wolf in sheep’s clothing? As a bitter turn of irony Telstra have released statements asking the small business and consumer community to partner with them on a new endeavor of offering free wifi to local area hotspots.

Superficially it doesn’t even seem like a terrible idea, having free wifi available to me as I walk down a busy street or local cafe sounds like a bloody good deal if you ask me!

However, pealing back even the first layer of this onion only exposes the true nature of what they are proposing, which in simple turn is a slap on the face.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey announced the Wi-Fi network, which will be one of the world’s largest as part of a $100 million-plus strategy, on Tuesday at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

For entrepreneurs with physical premises – such as shops, cafes and waiting rooms – a key benefit is the ability to offer free Wi-Fi to customers and to be promoted by Telstra as a destination hotspot.

So the benefits to the average consumer is very obvious, free wifi where currently there is none. However if you look at Telstra’s recent financials you will find that this is almost certainly counter intuitive with the direction they are heading. Mobile broadband’s (wireless internet connections) are the fastest growing category by far, and with fixed line spends dropping almost 50% over the last few years this category is tipped to make up for the recent loss in revenue (not profits).

So why would Telstra want to handicap their future money making potential and consumers access to free internet which means they won’t have to buy into their latest mobile broadband plans?

It is pretty obvious they are going to find these profits somewhere else.

Telstra have already said they will offer small businesses that want to take part in this a “new payment gateways and the ability to transform a fixed broadband service into a Telstra Wi-Fi hotspot.” Basically what this is telling you is that they will charge you differently and you have to transform your current internet into a hotspot and then obviously add a new internet to your premises so that you can run your current servers, emails and so on. Basically they are borrowing your current connection and forcing you to buy another one – sounds like a fair deal to me…

What’s worse is this technology already exists! Clubs and hairdressers have been offering open free hotspots for their customers for years it’sa simple case of a new modem and getting a local IT guru to come out and configure it. Telstra simply want to take credit for shop owners offering free wifi.

What’s even more arrogant from the Telco giant is that they are even asking mum’s and dad’s in their own homes to offer up a piece of their current bandwidth (which in turn will slow their own systems down) in order to use that spare bandwidth when they are out and about – socialism for Internets if you may. Now this may have even been slightly reasonable if the NBN offered the average consumer over an above their current 25mbps speeds but of course, they don’t.

Living in Brisbane, I know the poor service we currently recieve from out internet in terms of speed and this proposal is only set to make that worse.

By all means Telstra can connect at shops additional broadband hotspots but this should be at their own cost not small businesses and especially not consumers homes.

Just another example of the providers playing the good guy cards while shafting the rest of the Australian public when they are not looking!


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