Making payphones and Telstra Air free for all, and mobile emergency websites free for our customers

We're making all of our payphone and Telstra Air hotspot network around the country available to provide free local, national and standard mobile calls and Wi-Fi where available.
Andrew Penn · 05 January 2020 · 4 minute read

Why payphone calls are now free 

As of August 2021, we’ve made payphone calls free all around Australia, so you can keep in touch with loved ones whenever you need to.

As bushfires around the country continue to take their toll, staying in touch with loved ones has become even more important. So, until further notice, we're making our payphone network around Australia free for all local, national and standard mobile calls. We're also allowing free use of the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network where payphones are equipped to offer this. 

Given the scale of the emergency, we’ve made the decision to extend this across the country, allowing all Australians to keep in touch with family and friends. We also know how important it is to stay informed during this crisis. That’s why we’ll be making a number of key websites unmetered for Telstra mobile services. The following sites will not count towards consumer mobile data limits throughout January:

Check state and territory rural fire services for the latest information 

Contact government agencies for emergency response information

Follow these other critical information websites

Our teams are continuing to work around the clock with emergency services to access infrastructure in order to get services back online. However, as I have said previously, this may take time given a lot of these areas are still inaccessible.

Again, I want to take this opportunity to commend our emergency services for their incredible work, and thank our Telstra technicians and staff on the ground in bushfire-affected areas for their tireless efforts to restore communications.



By Andrew Penn

Former Chief Executive Officer

Andy Penn became the CEO and Managing Director of Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, on 1 May 2015. At Telstra, Andy is leading an ambitious change program transforming the business to be positioned to compete in the radically changing technology world of the future with 5G at its core. Andy has had an extensive career spanning 40 years across 3 different industries - telecommunications, financial services and shipping. He joined Telstra in 2012 as Chief Financial Officer. In 2014 he took on the additional responsibilities as Group Executive International.

Prior to Telstra, Andy spent 23 years with the AXA Group, one of the world’s largest insurance and investment groups. His time at AXA included the roles of Chief Executive Officer 2006-2011 AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Asia and Chief Executive Australia and New Zealand.  At AXA, Andy was instrumental in building one of the most successful Asian businesses by an Australian company that was sold to its parent in 2011 for more than A$10bn.

Other directorships & appointments: Member of the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria; Board Director of the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA); Chairman of the Australian Government’s Cyber Industry Advisory Panel, created to guide development of Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy; Patron, on behalf of Telstra, of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards (NATSIAA); Life Governor of Very Special Kids and an Ambassador for the Amy Gillett Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of both The Big Issue Home for Homes and JDRF.

Recognition and qualifications: MBA (Kingston), AMP (Harvard), FCCA, HFAIPM. Andy has a national diploma in business studies (with distinction), is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, holds an MBA from Kingston University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program. In 2008 Andy was recognised as Insurance Executive of the year in the Australian Banking and Finance Awards and in 2016 he was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Institute of Project Management. In 2018 Andy was named by the Financial Times among the top 10 male leaders globally HERoes list supporting women in business. In 2019 he was named by the Australian Financial Review as among the top 10 most powerful people in business.

Related articles