Telstra’s announcement of free Wi-Fi at payphones

I welcome Telstra’s announcement today that Wi-Fi access will be provided free of charge for all at several thousand payphones across the country.

Today’s announcement should increase digital access for vulnerable Australians and builds on Telstra’s decision last year to make local and national calls from payphones free of charge. Telstra should be commended for this important initiative, and its ongoing commitment to improving connectivity and digital access across Australia.

Increasing the public benefit from payphones is especially important given that payphones are co-funded by industry and taxpayers under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) funding arrangements. I appreciate Telstra’s confirmation that it will not seek any increase in the USO funding it receives for payphones as a result of Telstra’s decision today.

Increasing connectivity and bridging the digital divide is a core focus of the Albanese Government and we will continue to work closely with industry partners to improve access to communications for all Australians.

Telstra’s commitment to also bolster the reliability of 1,000 payphones in disaster-prone areas is also acknowledged. The Government will work with Telstra on this and in monitoring the effectiveness of the initiative.

Our Better Connectivity Plan includes additional major regional communications co-investment including $200 million for further rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program and $400 million for multi-carrier mobile coverage on regional roads and improved coverage for regional communities.

Our Government has also committed to expanding full-fibre NBN access to an additional 1.5 million premises to support faster, more reliable and more resilient connectivity, and has recently provided $480 million towards an upgrade of the NBN fixed wireless network.

Ensuring more Australians can access reliable communications services is critical to supporting small businesses, lifting connectivity, receiving important information during emergencies and keeping Australians connected.