The first wave of hotspots, which provided free wireless data during a trial period over the summer, were located in holiday towns throughout the country. There were roughly 100 hotspots.
Telecom NZ is extending the network – the NBR reports there are now 115 sites and the network will continue to grow. Presumably it won’t stay free to all comers indefinitely. It’ll be interesting to see how this project develops.
Presumably Telecom NZ will use the service as a competitive point of difference. A free service for existing Telecom mobile customers – even with data caps – would be a huge draw card.
Until now New Zealand has had relatively few WiFi hotspots compared with overseas. We’ve noticed overseas visitors surprised by the relatively low number of access points.
WiFi hotspots are particularly important here given the high cost of mobile data in this country. I used one during my summer holiday to bulk upload photos while on the road. Sending the same amount of data using the 3G network would have cost a small fortune.
During my test I found the network rarely extends more than around 80 metres from a phone booth. The speeds were comparable with my home WiFi network – more than fast enough for most applications. I never got close to using the data cap.
My only complaint is that the free wi-fi equipped phone booths are rarely within range of decent cafes serving good coffee. Can someone please fix that?