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Telstra payphones become free for calls within Australia



Australia’s biggest telco has made major changes to its public phone system

Aussies can now use Telstra payphones for free to call any number locally or nationally.

The telecommunications giant made the announcement today and says the decision is aimed at helping those in crisis situations and boosting connectivity during the pandemic for people without access to a mobile.

Telstra CEO, Andrew Penn stated that the change means that everyone will have access to one of the network’s 15,000 payphones to make a free local or national call to a standard fixed line or a call to an Australian mobile.

“Telstra Payphones are now free phones for everyone to anywhere in Australia. They are an iconic and critical part of our community, and for many Australians, the availability of a payphone is a vital lifeline, especially for those who are vulnerable including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation.”

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said in a statement
Telstra CEO Andy Penn

International calls will still be charged at overseas rates

International and calls to premium and satellite numbers will still incur a cost, while Telstra Air remains free to eligible Telstra customers. Payphones will also become coinless from 1 October 2021 with Telstra Phonecards recommended for dialing international and premium numbers.

Telstra announces major change to payphone network.

Dedicated to critical services

In the past year, about 11 million calls were made across Australia from Telstra payphones including more than 230,000 calls to critical services like ‘000’ and Lifeline.

Mr Penn said during natural disasters, including the recent flood crisis and Black Summer bushfires, payphones have served as a “critical” part of helping families contact loved ones and emergency services.

Today’s initiative builds on Telstra’s five-year program providing free national calls on its payphones during the Christmas and New Year period which it works closely on with the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle welcomed today’s news, saying, “This is an absolute game-changer for many of the people we work with across the nation. The reality is this piece of infrastructure is absolutely critical because a lot of Australians either don’t have a mobile phone, lose it or the phone’s charger, or simply run out of credit.”

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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