Image source: https://www.abc.net.au/
Future generations may never know the thrill of making a reverse-charges call to their parents after Telstra made its 15,000 payphones free.
The telco announced today local or national calls to a fixed line or Australian mobile from a Telstra payphone would no longer incur a charge.
The move means the days of scrambling for 50 cents in change, or devising a code involving a predetermined number of rings were effectively over.
The company said around 11 million calls were made from its payphones last year, including 230,000 calls to critical services such as 000 and Lifeline.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the move to make every payphone free would cost the company around $5 million a year.
“Just watching over the last 18 months how they’ve played a role in emergency situations through the bushfires in keeping people connected and particularly those that are vulnerable and disadvantaged, I just thought we’ve got to a point where we can make this free,” he said
“It’s not not a big deal for Telstra.”
Mr Penn said Telstra had no plans to remove any of the payphones, and the number of phones the company maintained was determined by the federal government.
The phones have previously been made free to communities affected by natural disasters, or in remote indigenous communities.
Telstra has also offered free Christmas and New Year calls from its payphones for the past five years.
Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle said it was a “game changer” for people who couldn’t afford a mobile phone, or have had to leave dangerous domestic situations.
“Many vulnerable Australians don’t have access to a mobile phone so it’s really important for them to break down that sense of social poverty, social isolation to connect with a friend, or to connect with a service,” he said.