Telstra announces free community use of public payphones

Phone calls from public payphones to home phones and mobile phones are now free. Photo: Emma Darbin.


PAYPHONES all over Australia are now free for the community to use following a recent announcement from Telstra.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn made the announcement that local and national calls to standard fixed line numbers and calls to standard Australian mobiles on Telstra’s public payphones are now free.

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“This means any Australian can now use all of our 15,000 payphones on street corners and in the tiny towns, truck stops and airports in every corner of the country to make calls for free,” Mr Penn stated.

“It’s an important moment.”

Mr Penn said Telstra decided to make payphone use free because payphones have been part of Australia’s landscape since they were first used in the 1880’s and at one point – just before the arrival of mobiles – there were more than double the number that we have today.

“Since mobiles became nearly universal, a lot of Australians might not give them much thought, until there’s a natural disaster,” Mr Penn said.

“Until you’re in vulnerable circumstances, homeless or fleeing domestic violence.

“That’s why I decided it’s time to make payphones free; because even in the age of the smartphone they play such a critical role in our community, particularly in times of need, and particularly for those in need.”

Mr Penn said payphones are part of the fabric of Australia and are important in good times and bad.

“I’ve seen queues of people waiting in line, coins at the ready, to use a payphone to call home and tell their family and friends they’re safe after a bushfire, a cyclone or some other natural disaster has taken the mobile network down,” he said.

“I know payphones are also a lifeline for thousands of vulnerable Australians – the homeless, the isolated, those escaping domestic violence – and often provide their only link to critical support services and those that care about them.”

“I’m delighted it’s now free for everyone to make calls anywhere in Australia.”

In 2020, Australians made 11 million calls on payphones, including more than 230,000 calls to vital services like Triple Zero.

International phone calls will still be charged.

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