Telstra giving away 12,000 4G-capable phones

Telstra has announced it will be giving away 12,000 4G-capable mobile phones for free to some of their more vulnerable customers ahead of the planned shutdown of the 3G network.

Originally scheduled to switch off on 30 June, the 3G telecommunications network’s life was extended by two more months to 31 August once Telstra realised there were still thousands of customers who hadn’t upgraded to a 4G or 5G-capable device.

The end of 3G would mean the end of digital communications for these people – even hindering their ability to call 000. Adding to the difficulty, a lot of these customers were elderly, lived in remote areas or came from a low socioeconomic background – all factors that impacted their ability to get a new phone.

To solve this, Telstra will be giving away 12,000 4G-capable handsets to ‘priority assistance’ customers, which includes people facing financial hardship, people recovering from a natural disaster and some who depend on having a working phone because they are living with a life-threatening medical condition.

“These are customers who may need some external support transition when the 3G network closes, to ensure they’re able to stay connected after the 3G closure on 31 August,” Telstra says.

How do I get one?

If you’re eligible, Telstra will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks to let you know your phone is on the way. Once your packages has arrived, Telstra says to simply follow the included instructions to get your new phone set up to use the 4G network.

Major Brendan Nottle from The Salvation Army says the move will go a long way to ensuring vulnerable people aren’t left behind by the technological transition.

“This initiative will benefit the most vulnerable members of our community,” he says.

“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 if I’m not eligible?

If you’re not eligible for one of the free phones, you will still need to upgrade your device if you’re still using a 3G-only phone. Telstra says there is still around 156,000 customers who have yet to switch, and they have been attempting to get in contact with these customers.

While it’s true you can spend a fortune upgrading your phone – you don’t have to. Telstra says it has a number of affordable options that are perfectly serviceable, such as touchscreen Telstra T-Essential for $79 or the Telstra T-Lite (which comes with physical buttons) for just $59.

“If you live regionally, we recommend you consider a Blue Tick device, which is a mark that we give phones we’ve tested that deliver superior voice coverage in rural and regional areas,” Telstra says.

Have you upgraded to a 4G-capable phone? What are you waiting for? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Best 4G-capable mobile phones for seniors

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. If you are with Telstra and want to know whether or not your current phone is compatible once the 3G network closes, send a text message containing the number “3” to phone number 3498. You will get an automated response which identifies your phone type, and tells you if you need to take any action.

  2. TPG keep on sending us reminders to upgrade our handset phone. But we also have mobiles so are in no hurry to upgrade. Besides we will be moving property in the next 12 months and then we will upgrade our handset – if we need one.

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