$5 per day flat rate:
Vodafone revamps global roaming options



blog Travel a lot overseas? Ever been hit with a massive global roaming bill? Vodafone’s got your back. The telco this morning announced that it would be implementing a flat $5 per day fee for customers using their mobiles in popular international destinations such as the UK, US and New Zealand. From the company’s media release on the issue this morning:

“Australians’ love affair with smartphones is well known but an increasing number of customers have been getting caught out by unacceptably high bills when they’re overseas, particularly in relation to data usage,” said Vodafone Chief Executive Bill Morrow.

“$5 a day to use your normal plan overseas is the cost of a coffee in New York, London or Auckland. But it’s hard to put a price on having your smartphone on you to keep in touch with friends and family at home, share your holiday snaps on Facebook and Instagram, or use Google Maps when you’re lost in a foreign city.”

Vodafone has a strong advantage over its competitors through its relationship with Vodafone Group, the largest mobile network in the world, which owns 50% of Vodafone’s Australian business.

“We’ve begun our simplification of global roaming pricing with New Zealand, the UK and the US, which are the countries that 40% of our customers visit most frequently, making up some 50% of all data usage overseas. But our plan is to extend this simple plan to as many countries across the globe as we possibly can,” he said.

Vodafone says that it and other providers currently sell data packs for customers to use overseas, but that the packs don’t include calls or texts and customers say they find them confusing.

“Our customers tell us global roaming pricing is confusing, so we want to take the worry out of taking their phone with them when they travel overseas. I am delighted today to announce the first step in offering Vodafone customers on our new plans simple, straight-up pricing for consumers and small businesses alike.”

Morrow says customers who do not buy a data pack to use while overseas are charged ridiculously high default rates of up to $20,000 for 1GB of data.

“These prices do not paint a pretty picture of the Australian telecommunications industry,” Mr Morrow said. “Global roaming costs are a worldwide issue because of the prices various networks charge each other but the impact on our customers is too great. I am determined to end global roaming bill shock just as soon as I can and make sure Vodafone customers can simply enjoy their holidays.”

To be honest, we still think $5 per day is excessive, given that Vodafone owns mobile networks in most of the areas mentioned in this morning’s media release. When you think about it, $5 per day adds up to as much as $155 per month extra on your bill per month — just because you’re using Vodafone’s UK network, for example, and not its Australian one. However, Morrow’s also right — this move represents a dramatic price cut compared to the exorbitant costs currently out there for global roaming, and we applaud it as yet more evidence that Vodafone is moving to make its local operations competitive with Telstra and Optus once again — even exceeding them in some areas. Nice one.


  1. Given its both data and calls, I think $5 per day is very reasonable.

    All it would take is 250kB @ $20/MB and you’re ahead.

  2. Absolutely – while i’m not a Vodafone customer, I spend 7-8 weeks a year OS and generally switch my phone off unless there’s an emergency – having this option is (IMHO) is fantastic.

    Renai, I suppose my expectations are much lower – global data access for $35 a week, that’s sensational in my books.


  3. Im with Paul on this one, whilst it would be great to see in the future (WELLL into the future i think!), no such thing as global roaming, and you use your mobile anywhere for the same price as using it Australia. For the cost of a coffee per day, to have access to your normal plan benefits whilst overseas, is a small price to pay.

    What this DOES show however is how much insane markup/margin is placed on Global Roaming by carriers on both end of the equation. If $5/day is enough to cover costs and still make a profit for any consumer traveling overseas on the Vodafone network. Compared to say Telstra charging $1050/GB, there is a massive difference.

    Hopefully competition prevails and the other telco’s follow suite. I wouldnt wager my lunch on it though, to give up such a high margin revenue stream would be a hard task!

    • Well if they don’t follow suit, a lot of overseas travellers are likely to get a sim from the big V in addition to their optus or Telstra one, which’ll certainly be one way back into the hearts and minds for Vodafone.

        • The point is if they buy an Australian Voda sim; they can go anywhere that this applies in the world and pay a relatively affordable cost.

          (Regardless if they are Australian; or their destination is Australia)

          • Exactly. If your lucky and win $2b dollars in a Nigerian lotto or something, it’s one less thing to arrange before jumping on that plane to go collect it :o)

            But seriously, it is one less worry for someone who travels a lot…

  4. Whilst the $5/day charge is hefty, if Vodafone extends this to Europe it could be really useful for those jumping between countries. If you’re spending a month in the UK you’d be better off with a prepaid SIM however.

  5. When travelling overseas, I tend to get a local prepaid SIM.

    Before people get too excited, this is a “plans to announce” media release. It doesn’t state what $5 per-day actually means (you can bet there will be limitations, fair use, etc) or which networks this extends to.

    Wording suggests this would be if you roam on a Vodafone network at the destination; given you can potentially roam onto other networks, this might end badly for folks (the ‘rort’ they purport to fix is something they have been charging people for, quite happily in the past; little bit arrogant).

    • While I broadly agree that a PR release without detailed contractual terms laid out is something to be cautious about, if the reality adheres to the spirit of the announcement this is indeed a fantastic step and even great value for travellers who need to maintain connectivity. Compare it to the cost of connecting to a hotel wireless network for as much as €50 a day. Sure, a local SIM is the best option, but for executives travelling around a bit who don’t have a PA to rustle up a SIM & set it up for them, having a service that ‘just works’ for $5 a day and leaves their number unchanged for uninterrupted contactability is golden.

      One thing I’d be keen to know – does this mean the $5/day would cover you for incoming call costs for Australians calling your active-while-roaming number?

  6. Nice. This should force some of the others to look at how they charge, and maybe actually get some nice capitalist competition going….

  7. So if Vodafone can offer a $5 flat rate, what are the profit margins, markups, etc on rates higher than this?

      • The SMH article on this topic quotes the “Australian Communications Consumer Action Network spokesman Asher Moses” as saying that “telco profit margins for global roaming are up to 400 per cent higher than from local calls”.

        So, more like obscene++

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