You may have already heard that we’re embarking on a modernisation project for around 1,800 payphones across the nation. Across our entire payphone network, we’re changing the way we charge for these services, as well as how they can be used.
From today, we are significantly improving the value of payphone calls. We have replaced distance-based pricing for national calls with a simple flat call rate of $0.50 untimed to standard fixed lines in Australia. Calls to Australian mobiles go from $0.50 per 35 seconds to $0.50 for 10 minutes – that’s 17 times the additional value to customers. And for the same cost of a call to an Australian mobile, we now have calls to 11 international destinations for $0.50 per 10 minutes, and reduced pricing and longer calls to a further 60 countries.
On top of these pricing changes, for the first time nationwide, our publicly accessible payphones will be able to receive incoming telephone calls. This will be of particular benefit to those communities where mobile phone usage isn’t as popular, allowing them to remain connected without a cost to them.
These are the most significant changes to payphone call costs in 13 years, giving users greater value for money and more ways to connect using our network.
Telstra provides over 15,500 public payphones across the country. Payphones across the country provide a vital civic utility, with 13 million calls made last year, 200,000 of which were emergency calls to ‘000’. Despite the growth of mobile phone usage, payphones remain a critical piece of social and community infrastructure, serving some of our most vulnerable citizens in their times of need.
Payphones also remain a popular way for Australians to connect with friends and family overseas, so pricing changes will be divided into four tariff bands: $0.50 per 10 minutes to 11 destinations, $0.50 for 2 minutes to 22 destinations, $0.50 for 1 minute to 40 destinations, and $0.50 for 15 seconds for the rest.
We’re also committed to ensuring that payphones help to support the most vulnerable in our community. In December 2018 Telstra, in partnership with Salvation Army, made local, national and standard mobile phone calls from our payphones free on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day to help connect people with their loved ones over the holiday season.
Over time, some of our new payphones will provide a number of additional services, designed to support Australia’s public communication needs for the next 20-30 years. Future payphones could contain a range of features including digital screens, Wi-Fi, 5G enabled technology, mobile device charging, as well as providing a space for communicating everything from emergency alerts to a range of content services such as public transport information to city maps, weather, tourist advice, information on nearby cultural attractions and the ability to promote the work of charitable organisations.
We want to connect people with the best technology and services possible, improving our public communications offering and the simplification of the pricing structure is just one way we are seeking to meet this goal.