Telstra to make payphone, landline calls free on Christmas

By @chelean on
A man and power lines are reflected in a Telstra poster adorning a public telephone in Sydney, Australia Reuters/David Gray

Mobile phones have been all the rage for the past decades, but payphones are making a comeback at least this Christmas, thanks to Telstra. The telco has announced it would be making its payphones across Australia free once again from Dec. 24 to Boxing Day.

The country’s largest telco will open up its network from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, making local, national and standard mobile calls made from its more than 16,000 payphones or home phones free of charge. This year’s promotion is shorter than last year’s, which spanned from Dec. 25 to 28, 2016; however, it now includes all Telstra landlines.

“By doing something as simple as removing the barrier of the cost of a call means that even the most disadvantaged Australians have the opportunity to reach out to their friends, family or support networks this Christmas,” Jana Kotatko, Telstra’s head of fixed products, said. “The initiative ensures that anyone in Australia will have access to a phone to make a call and connect with friends and family at Christmas — anyone can pick up the phone at one of our payphones around the country to make a free call, it’s that simple and easy.”

Last year, the campaign saw more than 271,000 free payphone calls made over the period. Kotatko said they were expecting the figure to rise by at least 10 times.

Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle commended the campaign on Wednesday, saying Telstra would be helping a lot of disadvantaged people connect with their loved ones this Christmas. “A phone call can go a long way in combating these feelings of isolation, but many people find themselves without the technology or financial means to get in touch with their loved ones. This initiative from Telstra is helping to provide an invaluable solution to the problem by offering everyone in the country — regardless of their personal situation — the chance to connect this Christmas.”

The deal also includes free Wi-Fi use at selected Telstra Air hot spots even by non-Telstra customers. What it does not include are "international calls, 13 numbers and premium and directory services."