Telstra: set to give free phones for 3G shutdown

Telstra has revealed it will give away 12,000 mobile phones for free in a bid to help vulnerable customers switch from 3G to 4G as a network shutdown looms.

Starting Tuesday, the telecommunications company will offer free phones to customers who are elderly, live in rural areas or find themselves in difficult situations.

Difficult situations include those facing financial challenges or recovering from a natural disaster, along with some clients who rely on a working phone due to a life-threatening medical condition.

Those who live in regional areas or are aged over 80 may find it difficult to access a physical Telstra store to make the switch.

Telstra has identified among these customers those who will need additional transitional support when the 3G network shuts down completely on August 31.

Only those marked as eligible will be contacted by Telstra in the coming weeks, with the telco encouraging customers who receive the message to follow the instructions in the packet to make the network switch.

Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army praised this initiative as a way to help the “most vulnerable members of our community”.

“Connection is one of the most important things to maintain in our society, both with friends and family and with housing and support services,” she said.

“Ensuring that every Australian, of all backgrounds or income levels, can take part in our modern digital society is vital.

“A phone can be a gateway to social inclusion, connection and community support, and with the imminent closure of 3G networks in Australia it is important for us to reach out and ensure this can continue for everyone.”

Telstra is also warning customers who have yet to upgrade, which is reportedly many, to make the switch as soon as possible.

Currently, those who have yet to make the switch can listen to a pre-recorded message if they make an outgoing call on their mobile device.

“Please don’t ignore it. It’s there to remind you that your phone will no longer work after August 31 and that you should act now before the network shuts down,” Telstra warned.

Other devices besides mobile devices affected by the closure include some smart watches, tablets, medical alarms, EFTPOS terminals and security monitors.

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