Telstra iPhone users finally get visual voicemail


Two and a half years after much of the rest of the world got access to the visual voicemail feature used on Apple’s iPhone range, and a year and half after the service hit Vodafone locally, Telstra has implemented the option, announcing this morning that it would charge customers $5 per month for the privilege of using it.

Launched today for customers with a compatible Apple iPhone, the application manages voicemail through a visual window which lists recorded messages in date order, including the name of the caller, so that customers can access the voice recordings that matter to them most, without the need to listen to all messages.

To play back a message, users can browse to the log list and tap on the one they want to listen to. Also, a “Call Back” button enables customers to return calls quickly. “It’s a real-time saver as you can select the voicemail that’s important to you without having to call 101 MessageBank or play through all of your messages,” the telco wrote in a media release issued today.

Telstra has not yet responded to questions about why it took so long to launch the feature in Australia, and why it will cost users $5 per month, when Vodafone customers get it for free. Optus has not yet implemented the visual voicemail feature.

The news came as earlier this month, some of Telstra’s customers started a discussion on online forum, voicing their frustration at not having a visual voicemail application yet. The telco acknowledged the feature has been requested by many of its customers. “We know many of you have been asking for this feature for some time, so we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to design, test and now offer this to customers,” they said.

In order to benefit from the launch of the new app, customers need to own an Apple iPhone running iOS4.3 or later, connected to a Telstra mobile voice service on a plan.

Rival telco Vodafone has been offering its visual voicemail app for free for the past two years, but Telstra’s ‘MessageBank Plus’ will be available at a price of $5 per month. Costs include the delivery of voice messages to the iPhone within Australia, while “normal charges” are applied when hitting the “call-back” button. International data roaming fees apply when checking your voicemail from overseas.

To be MessageBank Plus-ready, customers should contact Telstra and activate the service on their mobile phone. Users can customise their app by recording a personal greeting or re-using one they recorded before. When satisfied with the playback of the messages, customers can empty the folder on both their iPhone and MessageBank.

Image credit: Telstra


  1. Charging $5 to receive a service that should have been there from day one is not on. I would really like visual voicemail, but I refuse to pay extra for it.

    Any why on earth do we need iOS 4.3? No other carrier in the world has this requirement for visual voicemail on the iPhone. I have no intentions of upgrading to 4.3 until an untethered jailbreak is available.

      • Well, more to the point – Visual Voicemail is a standard iPhone feature. Optus and Vodafone have had it since day one, no extra cost.

        Visual Voicemail is a fancy interface to an IMAP server. The voicemail is delivered as an attachment into your IMAP box, and the app on the phone plays the attachment.

        IMAP is ANCIENT technology and simple technology.

        Why it took them this long, and then have the gall to charge for it is thoroughly beyond me.

        • Michael, I’m pretty sure Optus dont even have Visual Voicemail. I know from when I had my iPhone 3G last year that they didnt have it (promised it, but never delivered).

  2. You won’t believe how hard it is to get this activated. I don’t care about the $5, but nobody at Telstra knows what Messagebank Plus / Visual Voicemail is. They’ve added Video Messaging, whatever that is, and after many calls I’m still struggling to get it added.

    Maybe some product training to the call center BEFORE announcing the product would be useful? I wonder how many others have given up trying to explain to Telstra’s call centers what Telstra is selling?

    Besides this, I’ve just switched from Vodafone and am VERY happy with the excellent Telstra data and voice coverage. I’ve left the sad land of dropped calls and no internet in Melbourne city center.

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