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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Telstra looks to fix WiFi with a guarantee

Everyone has different wireless needs, but if you’re a Telstra customer struggling to get great WiFi at home, Telstra has a plan. Literally.

Even though most of us have some form of wireless networking in our life, the results of those WiFi networks may vary. Depending on what hardware you have, how it’s been set up, how many devices are connecting to your network, and the size and layout of your home, a wireless network may not perform the best it can for your needs.

There are so many factors, and while a big and powerful wireless router is one method to solve these dilemmas, mesh networking is often seen as another.

A little different from the big singular wireless router approach, mesh networking typically uses several wireless routers spread throughout your home that talk to each other, creating what is more like a Venn diagram of wireless networking reach. Several can exist together, but placed in different rooms, helping to expand wireless reach.

You may only need one, though you’re more likely to settle on two or three, with mesh networking providing a way to solve wireless networking dilemmas because of the way these devices talk to each other, and build networking range and reach.

It’s a technology Telstra has been using for just over a year, even using the EasyMesh mesh networking standard in its own Smart WiFi Booster technologies, something other companies have been a little slow on the uptake with, and it’s this approach to WiFi that is being used with a new Telstra initiative built to get WiFi better in the home.

Telstra has this week announced a “WiFi satisfaction guarantee” of sorts, whereby Telstra customers who purchase a Smart WiFi Booster on a $12 monthly plan (over two years) can get up to three other Smart WiFi Boosters sent out for them to fix their WiFi if they’re not satisfied after 30 days.

Essentially, it’s an approach that aims to bolster home WiFi with extra mesh networking points if the one singular device doesn’t cut it. That one Smart WiFi Booster requires one of Telstra’s Smart Modem models used for Telstra Broadband, which means to qualify for this approach, you need to be a Telstra broadband customer already, though it’s one that could deliver stronger WiFi for a fairly low price if Telstra’s own solo Smart Booster mesh networking point doesn’t do what the company thinks it will.

The “WiFi guarantee” isn’t just limited to a $12 monthly plan, either, with Telstra rolling it out to people who purchase a Smart WiFi Booster outright, being a $288 purchase. Essentially, it might mean that if you’re a Telstra Broadband subscriber and you don’t get WiFi you’re happy with other 30 days and spending $288 on one of the WiFi Boosters, Telstra could start sending more devices out to you in order to fix, potentially saving you money long term in upgrades.

Telstra told Pickr that in order to get the right amount of WiFi Boosters out to customers, Telstra’s system looks uses an app with the technology “to ‘scan’ the size of the home” and test the speeds on offer. This works together to find gaps, with Telstra planning to send additiona Booster units until the connection is “wall to wall”.

And while Telstra uses the EasyMesh standard allowing customers to slot their own EasyMesh WiFi products in and out (such as those from D-Link), Telstra will only be supplying its own, essentially keeping the hardware the same across a network.

Telstra also notes that it has worked closely with the CSIRO team linked to the invention of WiFi, using CSIRO’s Data61 to built a testing environment and work on methodology for testing, all to develop a solution that works in more homes. It’s one the company appears confident in, and aims to make sure more Aussies have stronger WiFi than ever, a particularly crucial issue as more of us work from home than ever before.

“As the NBN rollout nears its completion, it is important to educate our customers about how and why strong WiFi is a critical aspect of creating a positive internet experience, particularly with so many using multiple screens around the home,” said Michele Garra, Executive for Telstra Connected Home & Business.

“We’re seeing Aussie households increase its internet usage about 40 per cent annually. This means the in-home Wi-Fi network is as important – if not more – than the NBN connection into the home,” she said.

“From our research, we’ve found one in three broadband customers in Australia experience sub-optimal Wi-Fi performance. And in pilot customer trials of our new program, we didn’t find a WiFi coverage problem we couldn’t solve with our Smart Modem and Smart WiFi Booster combo.”

Of course, Telstra’s approach may not be the thing to fix every WiFi issue out there, and definitely hits an issue if you perhaps don’t use Telstra in the first place. If you’re not a Telstra customer, this definitely isn’t for you, as the Telstra Smart WiFi Boosters rely on Telstra’s modem to work in the first place.

But if you are a Telstra Broadband customers, and are struggling with WiFi at home that uses Telstra’s modem, a $12 per month plan could just net you stronger WiFi all round.

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