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Telstra Air – awesome idea, some bugs to iron out

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First, some caveats. I am a Telstra customer, I largely like their services, if not always their prices (hearing me, mobile?), I am a techie (so if something goes wrong with my service I can often work to solve it), and I’m strangely chilled (or perhaps it’s resigned) about pretty much everything.

Telstra Air is a great idea. We’d all love the NBN to come along and solve all our woes, but let’s face it, regardless of who’s in power and driving it’s deployment, Australia’s not a small or flat place. It’s going to be tortuously slow to roll out, 99% of Australia’s surface area is going to get crap coverage, and THAT’S LIFE. It’s not their societal obligation to change those facts of the universe.

So, Telstra Air is a great stop gap measure to provide an iota of better internet availability to people while they wait for something better to come along.

Having said that, I think there are some definite technical gremlins for them to work out before it should be considered ready for the masses.

a) You need to have an ADSL plan with Telstra not only to serve as an Air hotspot, but to connect to one without paying through the nose. They need to create a plan for those who can’t get ADSL (saturated exchanges, poor lines, etc) but whose neighbour has Air, so they can connect at reasonable rates.

b) Telstra need to allow businesses to join Air. Most home modems are woefully underpowered and can’t share wifi with anyone not on your doorstep. Creepy.

c) Open WiFi. Really! In this day and age? Surely they could have figured out something a little better, or even have baked in a VPN to the Air connections. I’ve discovered Avast SecureLine do cheap VPNs for android (and there’s probably a version for iOS) – which should be essential if you’re planning to connect over unsecured WiFi.