Payphones & the USO | ACMA

Payphones & the USO

This page discusses and links to reports, guidelines and legislation about the location and removal of payphones in Australia.

Payphone assessment guidelines

To support legislative reforms to the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 enabling enhanced safeguards for payphones, the then Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (Location of Payphones) Determination 2011 (the Payphone Location Determination), which commenced on 1 January 2012.

The Payphone Location Determination sets out the criteria for location and removal of payphones provided under the Universal Service Obligation (USO). One of these requires the Primary Universal Service Provider (PUSP)—that is, Telstra—to consider the ‘net social benefit’ to the local community when deciding to locate or remove the last remaining payphone from a site.

To assess net social benefit, the PUSP must use the Payphone (Assessment of Net Social Benefit) Guidelines (NSB Guidelines) prepared by the ACMA.

The NSB Guidelines (Word or PDF) took effect on 7 February 2012 and consider the financial and non-financial costs and benefits to all stakeholders and broader social impacts. To determine the net social benefit, the PUSP is required to undertake an on-balance assessment of the impacts on all affected stakeholders, including the PUSP and the local community concerned.

Telstra’s payphone responsibility

Under the USO, Telstra must ensure all people in Australia have reasonable access on an equitable basis to payphones, regardless of where they reside or conduct their business. How Telstra meets these obligations is set out in its Standard Marketing Plan (SMP).

Section 3.8 of the SMP explains what Telstra must do to provide reasonable access to payphones. It includes siting, installation, removal criteria and maintenance information.

Payphone complaints

If you believe Telstra has not met its obligation to provide reasonable access to payphone services and this affects you, your community, your organisation or a person you represent, the ACMA may be able to help. Read the payphone complaints page for further information and a complaints form.

For information on the location of Telstra-operated payphones you can use the Telstra payphone locator tool.

Further information

For further information regarding Payphones, please contact the please contact the ACMA's Customer Service Centre on 1300 850 115 or

Last updated: 24 February 2019