Australian payphones in for first major upgrade since the 1980s

In the next couple of years, Telstra is expected to upgrade almost 2,000 payphones. This will be the first major upgrade of payphones since the 1980s.

telstra payphones
Melbourne Australia - 16/7/16: Telstra public phone - Telstra is the largest telecommunications and media company in Australia. Photo: TK Kurikawa, Bigstock

These days, it is actually quite difficult to find a payphone and when you do you can completely understand why they are trying to hide. They are like a time capsule, stuck since the 1980s. But no more, Telstra has just announced the next generation of payphones.

In the next couple of years there is the plan to upgrade almost 2,000 booths across five cities in Australia. These upgrades are already taking place in Perth’s CBD and Melbourne is expected to see the phone booth upgrades as early as the beginning of next year.

So what is new about these phone booths? Well, they allow users to browse on the internet using Wi-Fi (and not 4G) and it also includes a USB charging port for all major phones. The things that are really getting people talking are the touchscreens which can display a variety of different information.

The payphones included in the upgrade will end up reaching approximately 65% of the total Australian population. So be on the lookout for these upgrades! This upgrade comes just a couple of years after Telstra performed a small enhancement of some phone booths.

With these new upgrades comes the opportunity for more marketing material to be displayed. Attached to the phone booth will be an advertising panel which will be branded with Telstra (obviously) and JCDecaux (an advertising company who is assisting Telstra in this upgrade).

Currently, Telstra is in the middle of a 20 year contract worth $3 billion to provide Australia with payphone until the year 2032. Telstra wants these upgrades to ensure there is a boost in advertising capability.

As well as this, research from the Measurement of Outdoor Visibility and Exposure found that consumers are more likely to remember and respond to an advertisement if they are outside when they see it.

Telstra must know this data and would certainly see upgrading majority of their payphones as an investment in the long term. While it may cost Telstra significant upfront expenses, down the line they will certainly make their money back as other businesses pay to have their advertisements displayed on the upgraded payphones.