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.