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Telstra starts video payphone trial in Sydney

Aussie telecom brings multiple data functions to the corner payphone.

Australian telecom powerhouse Telstra has started a 10-week trial of Internet-enabled public payphones that allow people to send e-mail and text, picture and video messages.

The 10 payphones will undergo a trial in Sydney's central business district. They will feature full-color LCD touch screens and allow customers access to other services, including video messaging via e-mail using the built-in Web camera.

Telstra's head of customer sales and service, John Rolland, said the trial was being conducted to "ensure that payphones introduced by Telstra in the future meet the changing needs of customers."

Rolland said up to a million phone calls are made through Telstra's public payphones each day, making it "imperative" for the company to "keep up with the times and offer customers relevant everyday applications."

The launch of the trial payphones follows the recent upgrade to more than half of Telstra's existing 32,000 payphones to allow customers to send text messages. A further 21 payphones have been enabled with Wi-Fi technology so that customers can connect to the Internet wirelessly from their laptops when near the payphone.

Staff writers from ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.