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Tag: payphones

Improving our payphone pricing and technology

Telstra News

Posted on June 3, 2019

3 min read

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.

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Seeking clarity through the courts: our new payphones

Telstra News

Posted on May 9, 2019

3 min read

Payphones are an important part of telecommunications in Australia.  With technology evolving, last year we began a project to enhance the services that can be accessed from around 1,800 of our payphones. This is the first major redesign of the payphone booth since 1983.

We can install and upgrade payphones on the basis that they are “low impact facilities” under the Telecommunications Act.  A number of local councils have questioned whether the size and design of the upgraded payphone booths means they are still a low impact facility. Like many outdoor facilities, including bus shelters and other street furniture, payphone booths have long been used to display advertising, and concerns have also been raised about the larger size of the advertising screens on the new booths. 

To clarify whether the new booths are a low impact facility, the City of Melbourne recently commenced proceedings in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) challenging our right to upgrade payphones in the Melbourne city area.

Because we operate a national payphone network, we think the best path is to ask the Federal Court to decide whether our new payphones are a low impact facility, so we have one judgment that applies across Australia. This will avoid the time and cost of court action in other states, and should mean a quicker, consistent outcome. 

Telstra provides over 15,500 public payphones across the country. Payphones in regional and metro areas provide a vital civic utility, with 13 million calls made last year, 200,000 of which were emergency calls to ‘000’. And 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.

We really believe our new payphones will play a critical role in our cities as they become smarter and more reliant on telecommunications infrastructure.

Over time, our new payphones will provide a number of additional services, designed to support Australia’s public communication needs for the next 20-30 years. They 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.

In designing our new payphones, we’ve consulted with a range of stakeholders, including urban designers, academics, local councils, road safety authorities and the police, to ensure that they are safe, do not clutter streets and continue to serve local communities.

Notwithstanding the decision to take this action, we will continue to engage and work with all stakeholders, including local governments and other associations on this project.

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