Payphones to become Wi-Fi hotspots

AUSTRALIA'S ageing payphone network has been brought back from the brink of redundancy to become Wi-Fi hotspots.  

Payphones have been suffering a slow death thanks to the rise of smartphones and mobile internet services. Where almost 40,000 boxes were in operation in 2009, less than 30,000 were still in use in 2013. But in a generous twist of fate for the orange-topped boxes most Australians grew up with, the very technology that accelerated its demise could be its saviour in the future.  

Telstra today launched a trial of 1000 new Wi-Fi hotspots that will be switched on in November for the Christmas crush in Australia's tourist hubs. Part of the trial involves converting some of Telstra's payphones into WiFi hotspots that will temporarily allow all users to access the internet using smartphones and tablets free of charge.  

The sites launched today include Sydney's Bondi Beach, Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall, Brisbane's Queen Street Mall and Perth's central business district. Telstra said the maximum range of the hotspots will be between 30 and 50 metres, so customers will need to stay relatively close to get the Wi-Fi signal.  

This will form part of the $100 million Wi-Fi hotspot network Telstra announced in May. The company will build 8000 of its own hotspots while partnering with retail stores and local governments to get 2 million hotspots around the country. After the trial period, the Wi-Fi hotspots will only be free for Telstra fixed-line internet customers with others paying a fee to use it.  

Read more at Brisbanetimes.com.au



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