4 August 2021

An excellent move, about twenty years too late: “Anyone can now make a free call, or an SMS, from a Telstra payphone, to a standard fixed line or to an Australian mobile… Telstra expects to forgo about $5 million annually, from about 11 million calls. RMIT University associate dean of marketing Con Stavros said this was a relatively small amount for the telecommunications giant to give up in return for a potentially large public relations benefit. Telstra chief executive Andy Penn said the decision to allow free calls was made to help people. He said payphones could be a vital lifeline ‘especially for those vulnerable, including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation. That’s why I have taken this decision to make national calls from payphones free, because they play such a critical role in our community, particularly in times of need and for those in need.’ Mr Penn said with family violence cases, ‘it’s not always easy for people in these situations to use a home phone or their mobile to get help, so I hope making payphone calls free might play a small part in helping them get the assistance they need’.” (The value of payphones as billboards is worth a lot more to Telstra than the cost of the free calls.)