Times are changing and the humble old payphone is looking to evolve to changes rather than be ripped up and taken away with the increase in mobile phone usage in the country.
According to figures from Telstra, the fleet of payphones across the country have dropped from 40,000 in 2009 to the current count of 18,000 in 2014.
While the idea is not original, Telstra has decided to follow in the footsteps of telecommunications providers in Brazil, Hong Kong, London, New York & New Zealand and introduce Wireless hotspots (Wifi) to payphone sites progressively across the country if trial sites are a success over the next 12 months.
The trial forms part of a 100 million dollar strategy developed and promoted by the provider earlier this year aiming to increase Internet connectivity anywhere in the community through the use of Fon branded wireless enabled routers in households, workplaces and sporting venues.
Wireless roll outs in payphone sites will include the mounting of equipment in the hoods of the phone boxes which will provide a maximum range of 30 to 50 metres and can also include the mounting of external antenna equipment to provide coverage extensions.
Trial sites will be limited to 1000 locations for the initial rollout, with tourist hubs the first to benefit. Areas to be covered in the first rollout include Sydney’s Bondi Beach, Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall, Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall and Perth’s central business district.
Telstra has confirmed that during the trial basis the service will be free to all customers, but will revert to being free for fixed line customers and paid options for guests once the network has been rolled out.
Having grown up with these iconic boxes dotted around the country, it is nice to see that they are not set to disappear completely with our change of habits and can be used creatively to bring more of us online wherever we might need access.