General Information > Telephone CallsAustralia is among the world's most advanced nations for telecommunications.
It has an excellent landline, microwave and satellite telephone system covering the country and several mobile (cellular) telephone networks. They service all cities and most significant population centres, but cannot be relied on for total coverage.
Victoria is the smallest mainland state and the second most populous, so coverage is good. If you must always be in touch, no matter what, mobile satellite-linked phones with world-wide reach are available - at a price.
All but the smallest hotels and motels have in-room telephones, almost all with direct dial local, trunk and international facilities. Interstate and overseas dialing codes are listed in the White Pages telephone books that you will find in your room. Many hotels and motels charge long distance calls at metered rates significantly higher than those charged by telephone service companies. Check with the hotel before dialing.
Many systems will allow you to use your international (or Australian) access card for the cost of a local call or a small service fee. Others have old systems, which will meter your calls regardless! At worst, there will be a public coin operated telephone at reception or nearby which will allow you to place a reverse charges (collect) call through an operator.
There are three types of public telephone - those operated by Telstra, and blue and 'gold' phones generally found in petrol (gas) stations, pubs and shops. Operated by a 51 to 49 percent government/private company,
Telstra telephone booths are generally found in streets where you would expect to see most people; often near shops, major bus stops, at railway stations and so on. These come in various styles, but all have an orange top, some with a stylised 'T' logo. While some are still coin operated (40 cents for a local call), and some take coins or cards, many are card only operated to deter coins thieves. International calls can be made from all Telstra phones.
Buy a Telstra stored value phone card from a newsagent or any shop displaying a Phonecard sign. These magnetically encoded cards are available in denominations from $5 up and can be used anywhere in Australia. A $20 card should cover most contingencies for a two or three week stay. They make good bookmarks, a souvenir, or a welcome tip to hotel staff if there is a credit balance. (Telephones display the credit balance after each call. Don't forget to take the card out of the phone when you finish a call.) Holders of major international access cards can also use these phones. Some Telstra public phones in major tourist areas can be used with debit or credit cards like American Express, Visa and Mastercard. You simply swipe your card through a slot and Telstra bills your card. There's a service fee.
Many petrol stations and some shops have coin-operated telephones for public use. These are either gold (deep yellow) or dark blue. Shops will give change for you to use their telephones, but hate handing it out if you are going to use Telstra's or someone else's phone. Carry two or three dollars in coins. Most take 10, 20 and 50 cent and $1 coins. Some will not permit direct dial international access. Local calls cost 40 or 50 cents. Use small denominations for short long distance calls as the phones return unspent coins but don't give change. You can insert more coins as you talk. The mobile (cellular) telephone market is extremely competitive in Australia. Telstra, Optus (Cable & Wireless) and Vodaphone are the major players though there are others. They advertise constantly and supply through many retails outlets as well as their own shops. Most deals require contracts, but pre-paid time and handset packages are now available - from $99 as at June 2000. Worth considering if planning to stay a while.
Some major hotels hire out mobile phones. Remember! Australia is a vast country, bigger than Europe and not much smaller than the United States, with only some 18 million people. The major cellular networks are digital and do not work in many areas where there is not a reasonable population base.
Demand proof of coverage before you sign up for a cellular phone. Telstra seems to have the best coverage in marginal areas. International visitors whose cellular service providers have a global roaming facility should arrange to activate it before they leave home. Again, access in Australia will depend on your company's local partner and its network. Compared to most areas, especially Europe, Australian international and long distance charges are very cheap. Local calls (unlimited time) cost 40 cents from a public telephone, an average 20 cents from a private one.
See below for telephone related web links..
❊ Web Links ❊
→ General Information > Telephone Calls
→ Directory Assistance - Telephone 1223
→ Telstra - Wikipedia
→ Taxi Telephone Numbers
→ Find a Telephone Number
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