From March Telstra will charge its customers a minimum of one minute for mobile, STD and international calls – up from 30 seconds, reported the Herald Sun.

This means customers will pay a minimum of 80c a call, whether they talk for one second or 59 seconds.

Telstra spokesman Karina Keisler said 90 per cent of customers on caps would feel no impact but she acknowledged in some extreme cases bills would be much higher.

She said the price of the average 2.15-minute mobile phone call on the company’s popular $49 Next G Cap Plan would rise from $2.37 to $2.74.

“(And) for those with fixed lines we expect, on average, those who notice a difference will see roughly a 2 per cent increase to their monthly bill,” Ms Keisler said.

Telstra moved from charging customers per second to 30-second blocks in 2009.

“All competitors charge in 60-second blocks for mobile cap plans,” Ms Keisler said.

“The change is to provide alignment across our home phone and mobile charging on cap plans, to standardise pricing and make it easier to compare call costs.”

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network director of policy and campaigns Elissa Freeman said charging by the second would be fairer.

“Let’s not beat around the bush. This is a price hike of substantial proportions,” Ms Freeman said.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said Telstra’s new pricing was bad news for customers, especially those who made short calls, regardless of what the telco said.

“They will put a spin on it but in one way or another it’s just another way you pay more,” Mr Zinn said.

“When I go and pump petrol I just pay for what I use, they do not charge in 500ml increments so why should a phone be any different?”

An Optus spokesman said it was almost impossible to compare prices because providers billed in different ways.

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