Free payphones in three Brisbane suburbs amid patchy Telstra coverage

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A woman uses a Telstra public phone in suburban Sydney, August 9, 2012.
A woman uses a Telstra public phone in suburban Sydney, August 9, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Some Telstra users in Australia will not be able to use data, text or even call at certain times over the next two months amid shopping centre upgrades that affect networks. Customers across three suburbs in Brisbane's north will particularly feel the effect, and customers in these areas can use payphones free of charge.

Telstra customers in Gaythorne, Mitchelton and Everton Park may not be able to text, use data or make phone calls as the upgrades take place, a spokesperson for the company confirmed on Monday. Even calls to emergency services may be affected.

The disruptions to mobile services were expected to occur from weekdays from 6 am - 6 pm (local time) but not on Saturdays and Sundays. Mobile users in Gaythorne will be affected from Tuesday until February 9. The repairs are scheduled to start Tuesday until March 7.

Inconsistent coverage will be felt in Mitchelton from February 12 - 22. Everton Park customers can expect to deal with disruptions from February 23 to March 7.

Brookside Shopping Centre, located at 159 Osborne Rd, Mitchelton QLD 4053, is set to upgrade a cooling tower on the building’s roof. This means phone providers with towers on top of the building will be forced to cut off their signal.

The Telstra spokeswoman said the company had done necessary steps to reduce the potential for such a situation to take place. "If Telstra was not available, the mobile would normally switch over to a different provider, but the other providers are in the same boat," she told ABC Radio Brisbane.

The spokeswoman added that phone providers have a number of bases stations around the area. The impact should be minimal since these base stations can take over.

There will be free payphones to use during the next two months. There will be free local, mobile and national calls as well as free Wi-Fi on Telstra Air-enabled payphones.

Some Telstra customers will be able to make calls through the internet via Telstra Wi-Fi Calling, the company spokeswoman added. Those with compatible devices can activate this feature, which will allow making and receiving mobile calls when connected to a Wi-Fi network like a home or office network.

Telstra Wi-Fi Calling FAQ's posted on crowdsupport.telstra.com.au provides more information on what to do. Based on the 2016 Census, more than 20,000 residents live in the affected suburbs.