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Telstra’s Upgrades Payphones, Back up Powers Ahead of Bushfire Season 

Nov 7, 2023

Telstra has announced it will upgrade local services and provide new equipment to help disaster-affected communities, in preparation for bushfire season.

Payphones will be upgraded, power backup technology provided, in addition to mobile coverage and performance improvements across the Hawkesbury to help communities affected by disaster reconnect and recover as quickly as possible. The initiatives in the Hawkesbury region are part of a national effort to support disaster-hit communities.

“Hawkesbury communities sadly know first-hand what Mother Nature can do, and we know how important it is to be able to stay in touch with loved ones during a natural disaster,” Telstra’s Regional General Manager Michael Marom said.

He added that the telco is taking proactive measures to ensure faster reconnections during disasters, while also working towards a more resilient future. 

 “We’re making our payphones smarter and more resilient so they’re even more useful in a natural disaster going forward. We’ve already started these upgrades, and we’re working toward having all 1,000 payphone upgrades complete by mid-2025,” Marom said.

More than 300 payphones in New South Wales are among the 1,000 nationwide set to receive upgrades over the next two years. These payphones will offer free Telstra Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and backup power to ensure communities can stay connected during natural disasters. These improvements have already been implemented in Agnes Banks and Bilpin.

Telstra is also improving power backup for its network sites. Fifteen Telstra network sites in the Hawkesbury region are among 250 nationally to receive Automatic Transfer Units (ATUs) by the end of 2024. These units allow local authorities to connect portable generators to exchanges and mobile base stations during power outages, ensuring faster network restoration.

“Extended power outages are often a major cause of our network going down. The quicker our network sites are powered up, the quicker we can restore services. This new technology means affected communities can be reconnected faster by the local council or SES if access to their town is cut off and preventing us from reaching them,” Marom said.

Telstra is introducing several initiatives to support communities during natural disasters, such as providing extra data for customers in affected areas, testing emergency roaming, deploying a dedicated response team, and trialing portable satellite technology.

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