Telecom New Zealand announced its plans to rapidly expand and commercialise its extensive national WiFi network. Telecom has already transformed selected public phone boxes into WiFi hotspots, with 700 hotspots live by 7 October and more than 2,000 hotspots expected to be live by the middle of 2014.
Telecom Retail Chief Executive Chris Quin also announced that from 7 October Telecom will offer WiFi free to all Telecom mobile customers on pay-monthly plans and on the $19 and $29 prepaid packs, helping to make their mobile data go further and make broadband access more pervasive.
Other Telecom customers, customers of other mobile networks and visitors using a New Zealand or Australian mobile can continue to access the WiFi network for a flat fee of just $9.95 per month. A feature of Telecom WiFi is that one-time registration gives access to the entire network, making the service easy to use. Telecom is also working on a range of other pricing plans to enable more flexible access to the WiFi network.
Mr Quin says Kiwis are using their smartphones and tablets in more and varied ways every day, and this means they’re using more and more mobile data.
“We want to encourage our customers to use as much data as possible, because we know how the smartphone applications and services they’re using are at the very centre of the way people now live, work and play.
“Adding free WiFi to their plans and packs is just another way that Telecom is helping our customers to make the most of their devices and to stay seamlessly connected on their smartphone, tablet or laptop anywhere, anytime.”
The WiFi network has been developed and implemented by Telecom Digital Ventures, the lean incubator-style business unit at Telecom designed to develop new and innovative business opportunities. Digital Ventures SVP Mobility Ed Hyde says Telecom has extensively trialled the WiFi service since last Christmas to enthusiastic support from mobile users, with close to 175,000 people already registered to use the service.
“Our WiFi network has already attracted a huge number of smartphone users - both Kiwis and visitors - who have enjoyed the ability to do more things on the go.”
Mr Hyde says a large proportion of those who used the WiFi network during the trial period were not Telecom mobile customers, but Telecom was keen to keep offering these users a WiFi service so they could take advantage of the reach and benefits of the WiFi network.
“If you love our WiFi hotspots, but you’re not a Telecom customer, we still want you to be able to take advantage of this service, so you can keep using the WiFi network for just $9.95 a month – which is fantastic value considering you have access to up to 1GB of data a day at prime locations all around the country.
“As an extra reward, non-Telecom customers who have already signed up to WiFi, or who do so by mid-October, will be able to continue to trial it for free until early December. However, if you sign up from mid-October onwards, we’ll still give you the option of a one-week free trial of the WiFi service, to test how you like it before signing up to the $9.95 a month deal.” Telecom had previously indicated the trial would come to an end towards the end of September.
Telecom’s WiFi network is spread throughout the country, with a particular concentration in the main population centres of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch and in key holiday spots. Users need only register a device once, and they will then automatically connect to a Telecom hotspot whenever that device is within range.