Fon’s crowdsourced Wi-Fi network spreads Down Under with Telstra deal

The “crowdsourced” Wi-Fi outfit Fon may currently be most interesting for the release of its Gramofon social music router, but at the core of it Spain’s Fon is all about the number of users it has making up its global Wi-Fi sharing network. That number is usually boosted by major deals with internet service providers, in which those ISPs’ customers choose to open up part of their broadband capacity to passers-by, and here’s a big one: Australia’s Telstra.

On Tuesday Telstra, which is Australia’s largest ISP, announced a new national hotspot network, with Fon baked into it from the start. The plan is to create 2 million new Fon hotspots over the coming years by harnessing customers’ home routers, and through the creation of 8,000 new Telstra hotspots.

That means non-Telstra customers should get to use these hotspots cheaply while travelling Down Under, while Telstra customers who have agreed to share their routers will get to use Fon’s 12-million-hotspot-strong network while abroad, along with other Teltra customers’ connections back home. Any usage will just come out of their standard home broadband allowance.

The network will launch early next year. In line with many other ISPs’ strategies around the world, a big driver here is offload – Telstra wants customers to hook up their mobile devices to fixed-line connections wherever possible, in order to ease the load on the carrier’s 4G mobile network, and also to create capacity for all those connected “internet of things” sensors on the horizon.

As Fon COO Alex Puregger said in a statement:

“We’re really happy to bring the Fon experience to Australia. Working with Telstra is a huge achievement for us. Not only because it means that we are now expanding our network to a new continent, but also because Telstra has been a global leader in LTE deployment. It emphasizes our view, that LTE and WiFi are complementary technologies, both needed to address future growth of mobile data demand.”