Telstra looks to transform the payphone into a digital advertising and connected community unit

ASX-listed telco partners with JCDecaux to upgrade more than 1800 payphones nationally to turn them into mobile and information hubs

A new-look Telstra payphone in Perth
A new-look Telstra payphone in Perth

Telstra has inked an agreement with out-of-home player, JCDecaux, that will see thousands of payphones across the country become digital advertising screens in the first wide-scale upgrade to the network in 30 years.

The new 15-year contract will see 1800 Telstra payphones across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – about 11 per cent of the total network - updated with digital advertising screens over the next two years in addition to existing phone call and Telstra Air Wi-Fi network access capabilities.

Booths will also be fitted with real-time public transport information, community polling opportunities, photo booths, mobile phone charging ports, interactive digital art and multi-lingual and disability services in the first major redesign of payphones since 1987.

The first phone booths are being updated in high-density retail precincts in Perth and Melbourne this week and will include USB charging ports and mobile integration hubs, which will be available to councils and will allow users to swipe their mobile phones to access local information and transport updates.

“We want to challenge the notion of what a payphone can be in the future and how technology is being utilised in public places,” Telstra CMO and group executive of media, Joe Pollard, said.

Given out-of-home advertising is one of the fastest growing segments of the Australian media industry, it also made sense to bring these additional revenue streams to payphones, she said.

“We are always thinking about new growth opportunities that benefit our customers and shareholders, and we see the opportunity to enhance outdoor media in high density urban areas as one of these opportunities,” Pollard said.

The second phase of updates will be in consultation with community and local councils over coming months, Telstra stated.

JCDecaux executive board chairman and co-CEO, Jean-Francois Decaux, said the deal will see it installing the largest national digital OOH offering in Australia.

It also comes a week after the company won a seven-year contract to take over Yarra Tram’s outdoor advertising assets, including tram-shelters, trams and billboards, in Melbourne. The contract encompasses 1400 advertising panels and 450 trams as well as six light rail billboards.

“As part of our DNA to creating smart cities around the world, JCDecaux will design the payphone of the future to provide state-of-the-art community services,” Decaux said. “This digital rollout combined with the recent announcement in Melbourne, will pave the way for JCDecaux to organically more than double the size of its Australian operations and gain market share in Australia, where OOH is only 5 per cent of advertising spend and still fragmented.”

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