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Telstra to cover mobile phone bills of volunteer firefighters

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Telstra will offer free mobile phone services for registered volunteer firefighters as a thank you for their efforts battling the severe bushfires across the eastern states of Australia.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn says the company will cover mobile phone bills for firefighters, who also happen to be Telstra customers for December and January, who have sacrificed their time with their families over the holiday period to fight these blazes and protect the community.

Firefighter volunteers can register to receive their free calls over December and January by contacting Telstra on 132203.

A number of assistance packages which were also announced by Telstra over the last few weeks to assist customers who have lost service as a result of the fire emergency.

At the weekend Telstra also announced a package for Victorian customers affected by the fires in East Gippsland and parts of northern Victoria including Corryong, Walwa, Towong, Cudgewa and Burrowye.

These packages provide free and interim services during the recovery period.

Additionally, the wider community will also have access to free calls and free Telstra Air Wi-Fi through local payphones.

“We understand how important it is to reach out to friends and family during times of crisis, and we want to do all we can to help,” Penn said.

“So in addition to the assistance packages that we always make available for our customers during emergencies, we wanted to also ensure that Australia’s volunteer firefighters are supported as well.

“We hope this will help ease some of the burden, particularly as many of these firefighters are defending their own communities.”

Telstra has been working with emergency services personnel in fire-affected areas since October.

The company is also currently working around the clock to restore services in these areas as well.

“A number of Telstra services have been affected and, in some cases, adverse conditions and road closures are preventing us from safely reaching some areas. This is the result of either fires damaging our infrastructure or loss of power to our sites,” Penn says.

“We have hundreds of Telstra employees working closely with emergency services to support the response to these disasters and to ensure our teams have access to areas of need as soon as they are deemed safe to enter, or under escort.

“We are doing everything we can to get these communities back up and connected as quickly as possible but given the horrific conditions we have seen over the past few days, this may take some time.

“This is our highest priority and our thoughts are with all of those who have had to endure such terrible conditions and loss.”

Telstra’s relief packages can include the following:

Short term measures (for Telstra customers who have a short-term impact – temporary evacuation of premises or temporary fault):

– Free use of Telstra public payphones in the affected areas

– Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas

– Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier

– Customers who use the free call diversion to divert their affected fixed home or business phone to their Telstra mobile service can also make local and STD® calls on their mobile at fixed-line rates, in accordance with their selected plan (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business.

– Affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 inc. GST (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).

The above offers are applicable until network damage in the area due to fire is repaired, or while customers remain evacuated, for a maximum period of three months from the date of the fires.

 Long-term measures (for Telstra customers who have suffered severe damage to or loss of their premises):

– Free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier. This offer is applicable for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire.

– In addition, Telstra will apply a one-off credit to the value of $500 inc. GST to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required: Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence

– Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises.