Telstra has an app for iOS and Android that will tell you where to go to find these access points, and it even connects to the regular Telstra 24/7 app to tell you how much of your monthly cap you have left.
And once you’ve connected to one Telstra Air access point, the information is saved. The moment your device sees another Telstra Air access point, it connects again unless told otherwise, allowing you to use that Telstra Air connection around town instead of your 4G downloads, which as we’ve noted before could save some money.
But while Air presents great promise, the lack of availability for the network is what is currently holding it back.
Granted, the network is in early stages of use and roll-out, but testing it for the past week in Sydney, we found that while we were smack dab in between a bunch of the Air network points, our devices would frequently be unable to find the the Telstra Air networks to jump onto.
At one point, we even stood outside one of the converted pay phones, and yet nothing. There was no Air connection for us to connect to at that instance, even though we were so close we could have beaten the glass of the Telstra payphone window with our hands, which wouldn’t have done anything anyway except hurt us in some way.
Accessibility is the biggest problem for the service right now, and it’s not helped by wireless networks that just don’t go far enough.
The few times we were able to connect to an Air network through this test, our speeds were very much in the realms of being connected at home, with ADSL2 speeds dependent on how close we were to the access point.
Using an iPhone, for instance, we found speeds ranged from 4Mbps to 15Mbps down, with 0.15Mbps up, not far off what we normally get at home replicated in a mobile environment. That’ll be fine if you’re just downloading websites, watching YouTube, or doing the whole social media schtick, but if you have to send photos you’ve shot on holidays, the upload speed may make a bit of a dent and force you to have a cup of coffee while you sit and wait for your device to get through it all.
Speed is one of the downsides of Telstra Air, aside for that patchy connection, because really all this service recreates is access to your Telstra account at home, and usually from whatever service is patching it through.
If you’re nearby a cable modem connection being shared as part of the system, that means you might get a little more out of Telstra Air, but that’s a big “might” because every time we tested the service, we found speeds reminiscent of ADSL, noticed thanks to the lack of available upload speed.
More than anything, we suspect Telstra Air will be better used overseas, where the Air connection should be picked up in countries like Japan, UK, Germany, and France, with the data from your home account accessible through these wireless access points relying on the Fon network.