Vodafone slashes cost of mobile broadband overseas

Traditionally, international roaming, be it for internet data, or for mobile phone calls, has been prohibitive to most people travelling overseas because of ultra-high costs. Vodafone intends on changing this, and is bent on making a mark in the industry by trialling new cheaper international roaming rates.

As a start, over the coming summer months Vodafone Australia is slashing internet data roaming charges for mobile broadband and smartphone customers travelling to New Zealand, traditionally a very popular tourist destination for Australians.

Internet data roaming rates will be ripped down in price from the previous $10 per megabyte charge, to $2 per megabyte. Vodafone has already found a niche for itself in the international roaming market when compared with exorbitant prices often seen associated with its competitors, but this is taking the matter one very large step further.

Vodafone’s head of post-paid plans, Jason Blair, said the idea behind the trial was to see if the price change proved to be so popular it would make the move to lower fees economically viable, so permanent cheaper roaming costs could be implemented in the future. Vodafone would also get an idea of an individual customer’s usage levels when charged at a lower rate.

"This is the biggest time of the year when customers are going to be roaming and New Zealand is one of our biggest roaming destinations … More people are also buying smartphones and want to use data when they're overseas. By offering a better data, we'd like to see what happens from a usage perspective." Mr Blair said.

The Vodafone roaming trial is for personal Vodafone customers only, and is anticipated to last until Feb.9, 2011. Rates are charged per kilobyte, with each internet session’s minimum length at 10 kilobytes.

Vodafone already offers international data bundles for people travelling to countries besides New Zealand that use its mobile networks. Data packs are $49 for 25MB, $199 for 120MB, or $329 for 200MB, plus 1GB and 2GB limits are available for heavy users, but for expensive prices.

Although these prices are very cheap when compared with its competitors, you can see this type of broadband internet should only be used when you don’t have access to free Wi-Fi or an internet cafe.

Cheaper phone calls

Vodafone has also changed its price scheme for customers who make phone calls while roaming overseas. If you become a ‘Traveller’ customer, users will now not be charged a roaming surcharge when calling from Singapore or New Zealand. Voice calls are charged at the same rate as your usual plan dictates.

Mr Blair said Vodafone wants, “to make it more affordable for Vodafone customers to travel with their phone and use it."