TELSTRA will shed 651 jobs across regional Australia, angering the communities hit by the cuts.

Blaming customers for shunning call centres in favour of online services, the telco says it will cut 422 full-time and 229 agency staff at customer service and call-centre operations in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland.

The company on Tuesday said it planned to close its customer service centres at Lismore in northern NSW and Townsville in north Queensland.

It also plans to consolidate some service delivery testing functions in Melbourne and Sydney into other call centres operated by Telstra and its partners.

Telstra said under the proposed job cuts, 180 roles would be made redundant at its Melbourne and Sydney service contact centres.

Outsourced jobs in Sydney and Melbourne would shift offshore, a Telstra spokeswoman told AAP. Some will go to the Philippines.

“Having our offshore providers dealing with calls isn’t actually new,” a Telstra spokeswoman said.

“It will ensure that more faults can be resolved at the first point of contact.”

In Lismore, where 116 jobs will go, Mayor Jenny Dowell said the plans would devastate the regional community.

“It is a huge loss,” she told AAP.

“I have had a phone call from a mother whose son works at the call centre, he moved here from Melbourne for it and his mother says he is just shattered.”

Another 126 roles in Townsville will also be lost.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said she was angry at Telstra’s decision to close its call centre in the city.

Ms Hill said she was not forewarned of the decision.

“I’m very, very angry about this,” she told AAP.

More than a third of the job losses will come from Melbourne, where some 108 Telstra employees and 127 agency staff are targeted.

The Victorian government said it understood up to half of the employees impacted may be redeployed within Telstra.

“Today’s announcement is disappointing for the affected employees and their families,” the government said in the statement.

“Telstra remains a major employer with around 11,000 Victorians employed state-wide, and the company is committed to its operations in Victoria.”

Telstra blamed a 20 per cent fall in call volumes in the past 12 months for the job cuts.

Further falls were expected in coming years as fewer customers used phone services.

“In fact 30 per cent of our customers now use online transactions,” the company said in a statement.

Telstra said staff affected by the cuts would be invited to apply for other roles within the company.

A final decision on job cuts would be made in two to three weeks, a spokeswoman said.

Article by Heraldsun