They will now be available to use for free on Tuesday, with Telstra announcing that Australians will no longer need to carry coins to use public payphones.
People can now make standard national calls and SMS from Telstra’s 15,000 public payphones for free, but users will still have to pay for international calls.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said payphones were an important part of Australian history and have played an important role during emergency situations over the past 18 months.
“Since mobiles have become almost universal, many Australians may not consider them much until a natural disaster strikes. Unless you are in unsafe conditions, homeless, or fleeing domestic violence,” pen said in a statement. “That’s why I decided it was time to make Payphone free.”
Australians made 11 million calls through payphones last year, and more than 230,000 were to emergency services such as 000.
Telstra expects to lose $5 million in revenue from the decision, but Penn said it wasn’t a big deal.
“I know payphones are also a lifeline for thousands of vulnerable Australians – homeless, isolated, domestic violence survivors – and often provide their only link to critical support services and those who care about them,” They said.
Major Brendan Knottle of the Salvation Army called the decision a “game-changer” that could help Australians move out of poverty and isolation.
“The reality is this piece of infrastructure is absolutely critical because many Australians either don’t have a mobile phone, lose it or lose the phone’s charger, or simply run out of credit,” he said.
Telstra has previously introduced programs to allow free payphone use, such as 600 fee-free payphones, in remote indigenous communities and communities affected by bushfire disasters.
“During the bushfires last year, I think we had three and a half million calls in a two-month period from payphones all made for free in Queensland and New South Wales.” pen told ABC Radio.
Telstra keeps payphones for Australians under 20 Contract Along with the Commonwealth government, which pays the telco giant $40 million per year for the service.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Telstra was committed to no increase in funding, and that they would “closely monitor” the impact of the decision.
“If this decision further improves access to communication, that would be a positive step forward,” Fletcher said.
News From – The Epoch Times