Telecom adds gigawifi to hotspot network

Telecom NZ is about to push the accelerator on its nationwide wi-fi hotspot network.

Later this year it will add 1 Gbps sites in high traffic locations to the 800 hotspot network based on public telephone boxes.

The company says the so-called hero sites will be in places like railways stations, airport terminals and other places with high demand for data connections.

Gigawifi coming to a town near you

In addition Telecom NZ will reward towns with the fast wi-fi hotspots as the prizes in a competition similar to the company’s  former network division Chorus’ Gigatown promotion.

Details of the competition have not yet been decided, but it will coat-tail the GigaTown brand as GigaWiFi. The competition  aims to create more user interest in the company’s wi-fi network.

Giga-this, giga-that

As the name suggests, the two campaigns are closely linked.

Ed Hyde from Telecom Digital Ventures — the business unit handling the company’s wi-fi hotspot network — says the two are complimentary because wi-fi expand’s the reach of a fibre network.

He says the benefits run both ways: “Having good fibre connectivity is essential to realising the full potential of WiFi.”

Singing from the Chorus song sheet

Chorus’s Gigatown promotion has done much to build user interest in the fibre network the company is building in parts of urban New Zealand. It also gives Chorus a positive news story at a time the company is coming in for criticism over the so-called ‘copper tax’.

Telecom NZ says the GigaTown winner will also get a GigaWiFi hotspot.

Until recently mobile carriers around the world regarded public wi-fi networks as a competitive threat. Two things changed that. First, carriers realised wi-fi does a great job offloading heavy-duty data traffic.

Second, wi-fi is  a relatively low-cost network add-on. Hotspots are considerably cheaper to equip than cell towers and requires less planning paperwork. Cellular equipment makers are now adding wi-fi to their kit.

Telecom NZ says the 1 Gbps wi-fi delivers data faster than existing hotspots. It uses fifth generation wi-fi, the 802.11ac standard which is backwards compatible with existing 802.11n devices. Some recent high-end smartphones – although not iPhones – support the new standard and will be able to use the faster speeds.