There’s something in the Air: Telstra’s nationwide Wi-Fi launches on Tuesday

Telstra today announced that its nationwide wireless network, now called Telstra Air, will launch on Tuesday as a paid-for service.

Telstra Air's network currently consists of over 3,000 hotspots across Australia – designated by pink domes attached to public phones – but its backbone will be made up of Telstra Bigpond broadband customers who choose to share a portion of their bandwidth. In exchange, these customers will receive free access to Telstra Air and the ability to use their broadband allowance across both local and international hotspots. Telstra says the service will be accessible in 18 countries including the UK, Germany, France and Japan.

Subscribers who wish to share their home broadband connection as part of Telstra Air will require a gateway and wireless range extender that retail for around AUD$210. Telstra says that over a million customers already have these devices, but customers will not be able to opt-in to the programme until June 30.

If a customer chooses to share their connection, about two megabits per second of their total bandwidth will be made available for use by the public. This will be accessible via a second wireless signal emitted from the router, "securely partitioned" from the user's home network. Telstra says that there will be limits on the number of users able to connect to a subscriber's in-home gateway at a time.

"The network will be brought to life by us and by our customers who can enjoy greater value from their broadband service by accessing their allowance outside the home," said Telstra's Managing Director of Consumer and Products Karsten Wildberger. "We expect it will grow rapidly reaching thousands of neighbourhoods and millions of people across the country over the next five years."

Users who wish to access Telstra Air without becoming a Bigpond subscriber or sharing their home broadband will be able to purchase temporary passes. Customers will be able to purchase one hour, one day and five day passes, for AUD$6.60, AUD$10 and AUD$23 respectively.

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