Telstra Is Handing Out 12,000 Free Phones, Here’s How You Are Eligible for One

Telstra Is Handing Out 12,000 Free Phones, Here’s How You Are Eligible for One

Telstra has delayed the closure of its 3G network to give people more time to upgrade their devices, and now it’s handing out phones to vulnerable customers who are still on the 3G network to help them transition to 4G.

Telstra said it will be providing approximately 12,000 complimentary mobile devices for some of our customers who are in difficult situations, live rurally or are elderly.

Those who will be getting a free phone, are getting it due to their extenuating circumstances. Telstra said these customers are in difficult situations, and facing things such as financial hardship, or recovering from a natural disaster.

Some of these eligible customers depend on a working phone due to their life-threatening condition, are over 80 years old and live in regional areas so they might not have the resources to make it into a store and get a phone.

How to see if you’re eligible for a free phone from Telstra

To find out if you are one of the 12,000 people eligible for a free phone from Telstra, the telco will let them know that a device is on the way. Telstra said all they have to do is follow the instructions in their package to switch to their new phone on the 4G network.

Telstra has not specified what phones they are giving out to these eligible customers.

Telstra 3G Shutdown Date

The new date for the shutdown is August 31, 2024, a delay of about two months. After this date, devices that only support 3G and earlier network bands will no longer be able to make Triple Zero calls, let alone call friends and family, or send text messages.

Telstra’s shutoff date for 3G was originally marked for June 30, 2024, 19 years after it launched in 2005. Vodafone already shut off its 3G network back in December, and Optus has September 2024 marked for its shutdown. The shutdown of these networks have been under intense scrutiny as of late, with Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland stepping in to ensure users are properly notified that the closure may affect them.

A working group was formed to focus on the switchover and make things easier for users. It was estimated that 740,000 handsets could be impacted by the closures.

One of the things that the working group could have decided on is the delay of the 3G network shutdown, but Telstra has gone ahead and delayed things on its own.

“This will also affect medical devices and other hardware connected to our 3G network, from EFTPOS terminals to farm machinery,” Telstra CEO Vicki Brady said in a blog post.

“If you’re not sure if you will be impacted or what to do, you can SMS ‘3’ to 3498 and we’ll tell you if your handset needs to be updated.”

Telstra will also soon start rolling out pre-call audio messages on impacted devices, with an automated message reader that the user must act to upgrade their handset.

Telstra is also encouraging users of older non-mobile devices to also reach out to manufacturers to be sure that they’ll still be supported for 4G or not. 4G began rolling out in September 2011 in Australia, so you can (roughly) assume that devices bought before this time are unlikely to support 4G.

But whatever you do, please don’t delay. It sucks to need to pay for a device when it’s for a reason outside of your own control, but after September of this year, you simply won’t be able to use a 3G device across any Australian network.

That includes the first iPhone to come to Australia, the iPhone 3GS. If, somehow, you’re still using this, please upgrade.

Image: iStock/Telstra

This article has been updated since its been published.