Telstra free Wi-Fi coming to payphones across Australia

Telstra free Wi-Fi is available from around 3,000 payphones across Australia as of today, with the goal to upgrade the entire network of 12,000 payphones to provide free Wi-Fi in the coming year.

The move follows on from Telstra’s decision to make national payphone calls free last year. One priority under the initiative is to provide enhanced power resilience and Telstra free Wi-Fi capability for 1,000 payphones in disaster-prone regional areas, according to Telstra group executive for consumer and small business Michael Ackland.

Almost 19 million free calls have been made from Telstra payphones in the past year, including more than 250,000 calls made to critical services such as Triple Zero and Lifeline. Centrelink was the most dialled service from payphones.

Payphones have also played a vital role in many communities across the country, particularly those impacted by disasters such as summer bsuhfires and the recent floods across Northern NSW and Queensland.

“While a lot of us take connectivity for granted these days, many isolated or vulnerable people, although they may have access to a mobile device, don’t always have the data to be able to connect,” Ackland says.

“Free Wi-Fi has the potential to make a massive difference in their ability to stay connected to family and friends and access essential services.”

Originally, Wi-Fi from payphones was part of the telco’s Telstra Air offering – only available to some Telstra customers. Initial plans to eventually charge for access to the Telstra Air network never eventuated.

Instead, access to Telstra free Wi-Fi has gradually been restricted, such as removing access for Telstra mobile pre-paid customers in 2020. While Telstra Air access is still available to post-paid customers as a plan inclusion, it became less relevant as the telco began to offer unlimited data on its post-paid plans.

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