Telstra’s huge move ahead of 3G shutdown

Telstra had pushed its 3G network shutdown in order to give people more time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Diego Fedele

Telstra is providing 12,000 free mobile phones away in a bid to help vulnerable customers switch from 3G to 4G, as the network shutdown looms.

The telecommunication company is issuing complimentary phones to customers who are either elderly, live rurally or are in difficult situations.

Difficult situations include those facing financial issues or recovering from a natural disaster, along with some customers with life-threatening medical conditions who rely on a working phone.

Telstra had pushed its 3G network shutdown in order to give people more time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Diego Fedele

Those who live in regional areas or are over 80 years old may have difficulties accessing a physical Telstra store in order to make the switch.

Telstra has identified these customers as those who will need extra support when it shuts down its 3G network on August 31.

Only those who are flagged as eligible will be contacted by Telstra in the coming weeks, with the telco encouraging customers who receive the message to follow the instructions in their package to make the network switch.

Major Brendan Nottle from The Salvation Army has praised this initiative as a way to help 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.

Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

“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.”

Telstra is also warning customers who are yet to upgrade to make the switch sooner than later.

Optus and Telstra are the only ones left still operating 3G network. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Currently, a prerecorded message can be heard by those yet to make the switch if they make an call on their mobile device.

“Please don’t ignore it. It is there to remind you that your phone won’t work after 31 August, and you should act now before the network closes,” Telstra warned.

Other devices besides mobile devices affected by the shutdown include certain smart watches, tablets, medical alarms, EFTPOS terminals and security monitors.