Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Telstra set to provide free phones to 12,000 Aussies ahead of 3G shutdown

The closure of the Telstra 3G network is drawing closer, but if you’re remote, elderly, or a disadvantaged customer, you may be able to get a replacement phone free.

There’s been warning of the end of 3G networks for several months now, but as the weeks draw closer to the final date in August, the countdown is on for people to upgrade.

While many phones have been upgraded from 3G to 4G, some mobile customers on Telstra still haven’t made the switch, and that’ll be a problem if they happen to have an older phone that doesn’t support the current 4G network.

With August 31 the deadline for the closure of the Telstra 3G network, the big T has a sort-of solution for thousands of Aussies who need the support most: a free phone.

That’s the news this week, with Telstra set to provide around 12,000 Australians across the country, offering free handsets to the elderly (typically over 80 years old) and living in difficult situations, such as recovering from natural disasters or dealing with financial hardship.

The 12,000 number is a little under the 10 percent of customers who need to change to a new device, with Telstra noting that around 156,000 customers remain with a handset that is not compatible with the 4G network. That’s a number that clearly needs to change, and they’ll hear a pre-recorded message reminding them to upgrade every time they make a phone call.

However, for the 12,000-odd customers eligible to get a new phone for fee, Telstra will be contacting them in the coming weeks to let them know what’s coming.

In terms of “what’s coming”, Telstra told Pickr that it “is providing customers with familiar mobile devices”. For instance, if the customer has been using a flip phone, they’ll be provided with a 4G compatible flip phone, while a large button feature phone will be replaced with a similar updated large button feature phone.

Don’t expect a free iPhone in Telstra’s free 4G phone rollout, however, as that’s not what’s being supplied. This appears to be about making sure disadvantaged subscribers are taken care of, ensuring they’re connected to the network properly ahead of the shutdown in the coming weeks.

Alternatively, anyone at all concerned that their phones are incompatible can SMS the number three (3) to “3498” to find out if they need to upgrade their phone.

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