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Telstra offers free phones to help customers transition from 3G

Telstra is giving away 12,000 free mobile phones to help make the decommission of its 3G network smoother for vulnerable customers. This initiative is part of Telstra’s broader plan to upgrade its services and expand the reach of its 4G and 5G networks.

The free phones are available from June 18 to elderly, rural or vulnerable customers who might face service disruptions once the 3G network is shut down

In the coming weeks, Telstra will contact customers eligible for a free phone to let them know that a device is on its way. Each device package will include instructions on how to set up the new phone on Telstra’s 4G network.  

Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army Melbourne, Major Brendan Nottle, spoke about the positive impact Telstra’s free phone offer will have on the community.  

”This initiative will benefit the most vulnerable members of our community. Connection is one of the most important things to maintain in our society, whether it is with friends and family or with housing and support services,” he said.

“Ensuring that every Australian, from any background or level of income, can take part in our modern digital society is crucial. A phone can be a gateway to social inclusion, community connection and support, and with the upcoming closure of 3G networks in Australia it is important for us to reach out and ensure that this can continue for everyone.”

What do Telstra customers need to know about the 3G shutdown?

Telstra’s 3G shutdown was originally scheduled for June 2024, but has been pushed back to August 31. It will primarily affect users with older devices that aren’t compatible with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology. Customers with newer phones won’t be impacted, as handsets sold by Telstra and purchased after January 2019 can automatically be used on the telco’s 4G or 5G networks. 

Customers that have a device without VoLTE technology will not be able to make voice calls after August 31, even if their phone can use 4G data. 

Telstra’s 3G network has been operational since 2006, but has been rendered somewhat outdated thanks to the advancement of 4G and 5G technologies. The modern networks offer faster speeds, lower latency, and better reliability – all of which are crucial for today’s data-intensive applications.

Competitor telco TPG Group (Vodafone) has already switched off its 3G network earlier this year, with Optus to follow suit in September.

I’m a Telstra customer – is my phone affected?

Telstra customers using 3G will currently hear a pre-recorded message when making outgoing calls, informing them of the 3G shutdown and the August 31 cut-off date. If you receive this message and are not eligible for a free device, you will need to contact Telstra online or in-store to upgrade to a 4G or 5G compatible option.

Customers can also check if their mobile phone may be impacted by texting the number 3 to 3498. While you may need to upgrade your smartphone, you won’t need to change your phone plan or phone number to move to 4G/5G services.

Other devices that may be affected by the shutdown include smart watches, medical alerts, NextG Wireless Link (NGWL) services and 3G Internet of Things (IoT) operations.

Compare phone plans on the Telstra network

If you’re a current Telstra customer looking for a cheaper 4G or 5G-ready plan, or simply want to see what options are available with Telstra coverage, check out our guide to the best phone plans on the Telstra network.

Postpaid plans on the Telstra network

The table below shows a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard advertised monthly cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our phone plan comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products which may contain links to referral partners.

Prepaid plans on the Telstra network

The table below shows a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard advertised monthly cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products which may contain links to referral partners.

Rachel Bollerman
Content Producer
Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology. She has worked in a variety of public relations, marketing and communications roles, gaining experience in community management, social media marketing, blog writing and other styles of copywriting. Prior to joining Canstar, Rachel worked at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health where she assisted with campaign management and communications across the organisation. When she's not working, Rachel enjoys doing arts and crafts projects at home and spending time with friends.

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