Telstra is allowing Australians to make free calls to landline numbers and mobiles from any one of its 15,000 payphones.
Telstra Corporation is allowing Australians to make free calls to landline numbers and mobiles from any one of its 15,000 payphones.
From today, standard national calls and SMS from Telstra payphones will be free.
International calls and calls to premium and satellite numbers will still incur a cost but Wi-Fi service Telstra Air will remain free to eligible customers.
The move is an improvement to Telstra’s previous five-year initiative that allowed people to make free phone calls during the Christmas and New Year periods.
The company says roughly 11 million phone calls have been made from Telstra payphones in the past year, including more than 230,000 calls to emergency services like ‘000’ and Lifeline.
Telstra said its payphones were a critical service for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and communities, in particular those in regional and remote areas.
“Telstra payphones are now free phones for everyone to anywhere in Australia,” chief executive Andrew Penn 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 been working closely with the Salvation Army on the initiative.
Major Brendan Nottle said the move was a game-changer for many people the Salvation Army worked with across Australia.
“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.
“It’s really important for them to break down that sense of social poverty, social isolation, and to connect with a friend or with support services.”
Payphones will also become coinless from October 1 with Telstra Phonecards recommended for dialing international and premium numbers.
Shares in Telstra closed down 0.3 per cent today to trade at $3.76.