This page provide information about the “landline” phone options provided to you by Telstra.
What is the Standard Telephone Service (STS)?
It’s the minimum phone service that Telstra is contracted to supply under its Universal Service Obligation.
The USO is being replaced in 2020 by the Universal Service Guarantee.
Under the USO/USG, all people in Australia must have reasonable access to standard telephone services (STS) and payphones, wherever they work or live, and for the same prices regardless of location or technology used to deliver the service.
Under the USO, this access was to be delivered by Telstra alone. The USG opens the way for competitors to provide that access – for example, landline services supplied via the nbn™ fibre-optic network.
Telstra delivers its standard telephone services across Australia using a mix of technologies, including copper wire (PSTN), point to point radio (e.g. high capacity radio concentrator system or HCRC), NextG Wireless Link (NGWL), and satellite infrastructure (i.e. Telstra’s USO Satellite service). These services are supplied on plans specific to Telstra, which are (as a minimum) equivalent to plans for the same services in cities.
As the nbn™ fibre-optic network is rolled out across Australia, it replaces PSTN wires.
More information on regional voice services can be found on Telstra’s “Regional Australia” page.
This is the usual line in the ground, also called the PSTN. It’s also been known as “twisted pair”. It consists of copper wires sheathed in plastic, and is generally dug (“trenched”) into the ground. You may have the important junction boxes and other parts of the network located in a “pit” near your house, which provides easy access to technicians for troubleshooting and fixing issues.
It runs back to an exchange or node box.
PSTN services don’t require an external power source to work. This means that in a power outage, as long as you have an unpowered handset (such as the basic Telstra one you can buy for $20, or by paying $3/month on your phone bill).
Next G Wireless Link (NGWL) uses the Telstra Next G® (3G mobile phone) network to give customers access to a voice and internet service. Data plans on these services are traditionally limited to 25GB, contract based and are quite expensive.
Strictly speaking, it’s not actually a landline service, as it’s using the mobile phone network to provide the services. However, no SIM is required to access the service.
It’s offered to selected customers as an alternative to a standard fixed line service, in certain circumstances. You cannot choose to use the NGWL. NGWL will be phased out and replaced with Telstra’s 4G Home Voice by 30th June 2024, when Telstra have committed to turning off their 3G network.
The high capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) networks were first installed as a replacement for older radio equipment in the 1990s. As of late 2018, they provide approximately 14,000 individual services to around 6,400 premises in remote areas.
Satellite services are currently used by Telstra to deliver around 1,000 voice services, generally in more remote areas.
Telstra’s USO geo-stationary satellite platform has been set up so calls can be delivered in a single hop, reducing the common “delay” (latency) found on satellite services as much as possible.
Can I get a landline?
Under the USO, everyone will be provided with a connection of some kind.
If you are connected to the nbn™ fibre network, your voice services will be delivered by that network, and any other previous landline services (such as those delivered over copper wires) will be turned off.
If you connect to the internet via nbn™ Fixed Wireless or nbn™ SkyMuster™ satellite, you won’t lose your existing landline service at all. We do, in fact, recommend that you keep your standard landline service in addition to your internet service. This should give you some sort of communications under all situations including blackouts and other emergencies, or local network outages.
Contact Telstra to find out how your premises may be provided with a landline. If you have any issues in requesting a new landline please contact us. When you request a new landline service, Telstra will advise you how that service will be supplied.
STS plans and costs
Plans are set by Telstra to comply with their requirement under the USO.
Our national pricing ensures that customers in remote areas pay the same price for an STS as our customers in cities. While this service has traditionally been provided as a fixed line telephone service, our obligation is technology neutral meaning we can choose the technology over which we provide you with this service. For example, in some remote areas we provide customers with an STS over satellite.
Plans and costs for the standard copper wire connection are on Telstra’s “Home Phone” page.
Financial assistance is available for pensioners and eligible Health Care Card holders.
Plans and costs for NGWL, HCRC and USO Sat connections may not be listed on Telstra’s website. Keep a copy of all the documentation you’re provided with and check your bills for pricing and any unexpected fees and additions.
When you organise your landline connection, check with the provider and/or the installer as to the equipment you are provided with, and what extra equipment you may need to request for an additional fee.
For example, a PSTN line is not automatically supplied with a phone handset. You can buy a handset from anywhere and attach it to the connection.
Telstra has the most basic handset available for $20 one-time cost, or an additional $3/month on your bill. They can be collected from a Telstra store or selected Australia Post outlets, or delivered via courier for $12. This basic handset will work without any additional power source.
More Telstra handsets are listed on their website.