Passport-Type tariff for data

Vodafone is introducing a flat rate data tariff for roamers. The plan will allow customers roaming on to Vodafone-owned networks within Europe to pay E12 for a 50MB bundle of data on a daily basis.

As with Vodafone’s existing Passport voice roaming tariff (which now has over 12m customers), the service is available on an opt-in basis but carries no activation charge. The tariff will be available to Vodafone customers with mobile-enabled laptops from 1 July 2007.

Vodafone reckons this will “significantly” lower the cost of data roaming “for business customers and consumers alike” and characterises the move as the latest development in a drive to simplify roaming prices, making them more predictable and understandable for customers.

Jeremy Green, Principal Analyst at Ovum, was less than impressed: “The tariff is available to laptop card users, and apparently not to other data users. As with Passport, it’s down to the user to work out when a Euro12 outlay is cheaper than just paying on a per-MB basis. Vodafone’s suggestion that 50MB per day constitutes ‘practically unlimited data usage’ seems a little out of touch with reality – a short while browsing BBC web sites can easily rack up 10MB, for example. That’s not core business usage, but it’s not unfair use either.

“So this isn’t really a flat rate, and it isn’t really unlimited either."

Vodafone also announced that from 1 July it will use new lower wholesale rates for data roaming in into reciprocal wholesale arrangements “with any other European operator". For small sessions of up to a maximum of 200Kb of data, the charge will be a maximum of €0.50; for sessions above 200Kb, the rate will be €0.50 per megabyte.

This may turn out to be more important in the long term, “a small practical step towards ending the roaming logjam” as Jeremy Green put it.

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