Have you ever wondered if your home broadband is being effectively utilized? What if you could squeeze more out of your data allowance when outside your home? Telstra may have cracked this problem in Australia: It will invest more than A$100 million to build a nationwide Wi-Fi network as part of a strategy to increase connectivity in the places Australians live, work, and visit, including cafes, shops, sports grounds, and transport hubs.

The strategy aims to offer all Australians — whether or not they’re Telstra customers — access to 2 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the nation within five years. Telstra home broadband customers can install new gateways that allow them to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra Wi-Fi customers in exchange for broadband access at Telstra hotspots across the nation. Non-Telstra customers can purchase daily hotspot access. The network, scheduled to launch in early 2015, will also reach overseas; an exclusive deal recently concluded between Telstra and global Wi-Fi provider Fon will allow people to connect at more than 12 million hotspots worldwide.

What It Means

Telstra has been at the forefront of improving the telco customer experience; its CEO, David Thodey, has been a major driving force behind that. This has put Telstra’s local competitors on notice and provides valuable lessons in how to raise the customer experience game:

  • Let customers’ paid Wi-Fi plans follow them wherever they go. By allowing home broadband users to fully utilize the unused portion of their data allowance outside their home network, Telstra has shown that it is putting its customers front and center and is confident that they will reciprocate with loyalty. Retaining customers, rather than acquiring new ones, saves companies money.
  • Be creative — it will keep you ahead of the pack. This appears to be an easy solution to an access problem — European providers like Free and BT have launched similar services — but it’s one that Telstra hadn’t attempted before. The company shut down its previous national Wi-Fi network, which lost money; this time around, it appears that Telstra could actually succeed, as home fixed broadband subscribers have already paid for the service.
  • Make international data roaming less onerous. By partnering with Fon, Telstra customers can access Wi-Fi hotspots internationally when they travel to countries including Germany, Poland, the UK, France, and Japan without having to fork over more cash — which might just put a smile on their faces.

Other Australian telcos must step up and respond accordingly — by pushing the creative envelope and seeing old problems with a fresh set of eyes. Two recent Forrester reports can help catalyze new ideas as you raise your customer experience game: How Companies Improved Their Customer Experience Index Scores, 2014 and Customer Experience Strategy: Build It In; Don’t Bolt It On.