Campaspe News

Telstra takes the ‘pay’ out of phones

- By DARREN LINTON

Telstra's network of public payphones need a new name, with the communicat­ions giant announcing calls will now be free.

There are more than 15,000 payphones across the network used to make 11 million calls over the past year.

Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said the decision meant everyone could now use 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,” he said.

“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 vulnerable including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation. That’s why I have taken this decision to make national calls from payphones free, because they play such a critical role in our community, particular­ly in times of need and for those in need.”

Telstra has previously unlocked payphones in response to natural disasters.

Telstra also made domestic calls free across nearly 600 payphones in remote indigenous communitie­s in 2020 to ensure these areas remained connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past five years a project involving Telstra and the Salvation Army has provided free national calls on its payphones during the Christmas and New Year period.

The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle described permanent access to free calls as an absolute game changer.

“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,” he said.

“Connection is absolutely vital for every human being, but particular­ly for those who are vulnerable.”

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Telstra chief executive Andy Penn.
■ Telstra chief executive Andy Penn.

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