We’re on a crusade to make your home internet experience better. From the front door to the back porch, we want to ensure that your home broadband is more reliable than it has ever been before thanks to our Smart Modem and our Smart Wi-Fi Booster. So when developing our new Wi-Fi coverage guarantee, we went straight to the team linked to the invention of Wi-Fi: Australia’s CSIRO. Here’s how we worked with them.

From the lab to the lounge room

Wi-Fi performance is usually tested in a laboratory environment and for a long time, Telstra has been testing the Wi-Fi performance of our modems in our own sophisticated test lab.

This has served us well and has helped us to develop some of the most advanced Wi-Fi solutions available to customers, however it’s a highly technical and sometimes theoretical approach, which attempts to simulate the customer experience and we have increasingly felt that it doesn’t replicate what our customers are doing at home and how they use their Wi-Fi devices while going about their typical home activities. We felt we were missing out.

Whilst we needed to continue the testing in the lab, we decided to also move Wi-Fi performance testing out of the lab and into the home, to be more representative of our customers’ behaviours and also give us the information we needed to develop our whole-of-home coverage guarantee.

In our first attempt at getting closer to the customer, we worked with a third-party to test in a dedicated overseas test house, completing more than 8,000 individual test measurements.

This gave us great insights about our Wi-Fi highlighting some challenges and areas where we could do better. But we still felt the results were too technical, too removed from customers and we decided we needed to test Wi-Fi in Australian conditions, in a typical customer home, in order to truly understand what our customers are going through.

Welcome home

To ensure our Wi-Fi equipment works as well inside the home as it does in the lab, we had to first get a home to test it in. That’s why, right now in Western Sydney and away from any possible interference, we’re rooming with our friends at CSIRO’s Data61 division in a six-bedroom home in which we can make our Wi-Fi promises real for customers.

When you move into a new home, you bring with you all your stuff to make new treasured memories. When we moved into a new home with the CSIRO, we brought trunks and trunks worth of gear. Laptops; tablets, mobile phones; Telstra’s Smart Modem and Smart Wi-Fi Boosters; routers; antennae; other vital measurement gear, and a whole team of experts to use it all. We even brought with us a little robot that had the sole task of roaming the test house 24 hours a day for weeks to measure the Wi-Fi signal in every single corner of the residence to ensure we could guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi. And he’s not even the hardest-working member of the team!

For more than six months, our team worked with the CSIRO team to measure and improve the performance of our devices.

We began testing real-life customer scenarios to understand the challenges that our customers face. We tested the impacts of the walls in the house on Wi-Fi strength and how interference from common household items such as microwaves, baby monitors, fridges and other Wi-Fi devices such as mobile phones could stop our customers from using their Wi-Fi the way they want to.

We tested the performance of Wi-Fi across multiple rooms to understand the performance when gaming, for home office setups and when using Wi-Fi devices in outdoor areas such as the garage and other outdoor areas.

Through these tests, we were looking to collect performance metrics like radio signal strength over various distance; down/upload speeds in different rooms using single and multiple devices and a wide range of other important real-world metrics.

It was important to make sure that our Smart Modem and Smart Wi-Fi Boosters work in real homes for real customers and to make sure we have measured this correctly. We had the test certified by the experts who helped build Wi-Fi for the world.

Feeling the heat(map)

The team determined the Wi-Fi quality by performing multiple tests under different scenarios again and again and again as represented in the heatmaps below.

The ultimate goal was to ensure customers could get wall-to-wall Wi-Fi and use all of their devices everywhere in their home the way they wanted to – the heatmaps we created helped us to make sure we delivered on that promise.

When our customers get Telstra’s Smart Modem delivered, they will most likely have to install it in the place NBN Co installed their point of connection, e.g. their phone socket. In our test house, our Smart Modem was connected in the bedroom at the far end of the house and for Wi-Fi to reach the other side it had to go approximately 26 metres and get through a number of walls made from plasterboard, single and double brick which all reduced the Wi-Fi signal.

As you can see from the initial test on the left in the below image, that’s exactly what happened.

Although the modem was able to provide a Wi-Fi signal to the other side of the house, the speed and coverage dropped the further away from the modem we tested.

When we connected the Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 and extended the Wi-Fi signal by establishing a Wi-Fi mesh network, the coverage went from three bedrooms to six in a matter of minutes, with more than an incredible 100Mbps throughput across the house, as you can see in the below image on the right.

The Telstra Smart Wi-Fi™ Booster Gen 2 is a wireless booster for your Telstra home Wi-Fi network, and it’s one of the first in the world to be certified against a new wireless technology standard that’s scalable, more efficient and more suited to houses of all sizes – it’s called Wi-Fi EasyMesh™.

With a simple two-step setup, the Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 connects automatically with your Smart Modem Gen 2 to boost your network around the home.

Better Wi-Fi, guaranteed

Thanks to our work with CSIRO Data61, we’re now able to guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi for our customers.

The new add-on gives customers our Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) for just $12 per month over 24 months (or you can purchase it for $288 outright). The Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) pairs with our Smart Modem to improve a customer’s Wi-Fi speed and coverage.

Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster

We’re serious about promising consistent Wi-Fi coverage, from the back porch to the front door and everywhere in-between. That’s why if our customers still don’t have reliable coverage in every room after 30 days, they can cancel their Smart Wi-Fi Booster repayments with no further charges and receive a one-month credit.

We want Australians to understand that not all nbn providers are created equal.

With the industry focused on nbn connectivity, we’re striving to deliver the best experience on that connectivity. When compared to other service providers, only we can guarantee wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage.

We’re proud to have worked closely with the CSIRO team linked to the invention of Wi-Fi. Their work changed the world, and to partner closely with them is a scientific thrill. The Data61 team worked with us to build the testing environment, to endorse the overall testing methodology and to develop the test plan, including conducting applied research using wireless technology such as software-defined radio, advanced signal processing, and multi-antenna technologies.

We feel privileged to be able to walk in the shoes of our customers in our Wi-Fi test house and believe we are the only ISP in Australia that has a dedicated Wi-Fi test house.

We are continuing to work with Data61, using the test house for Wi-Fi device testing to further understand the challenges our customers face, including the growing number of connected devices in the home, as well as the increasing expectations of Wi-Fi performance as more and more of us rely on our home networks for work, school and entertainment.

Things you need to know
nbn™ network customers only.
Maximum 4 boosters per service.
If you cancel, any additional boosters provided to you free of charge must be returned within 14 days. $200 non-return fee applies.