After making all its payphones free to use last year, Telstra is opening up its public service to include internet access at 3000 of its payphones across the country.

Anyone – Telstra customers or otherwise – will be able to access free wi-fi from selected payphones, with the aim that all public phones will eventually have the same service.

“While a lot of us take connectivity for granted these days, many isolated or vulnerable people, although they may have access to a mobile device, don’t always have the data to be able to connect,” Telstra group executive for consumer and small business Michael Ackland said in a statement.

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“Free wi-fi has the potential to make a massive difference in their ability to stay connected to family and friends and access essential services.”

Though providing free internet access in Australia’s disaster prone areas is part of Telstra’s mission, you can use it in any kind of emergency: telling your friend you’ll be there soon or looking up the last train home, for example.

“Since we made calls free from payphones last year we’ve seen a 70 per cent rise in call volumes across the country,” said Ackland. “While the Northern Territory has the highest number of free calls made, our single strongest performing payphone sits in Melbourne’s CBD within community housing.”