Better, but not yet there

September 24th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

have dropped their mobile data roaming rate in Australia to $5/MB from $10/MB.

This is obviously a step in the right direction, but for me the price point is still too high.

Vodafone has had a temporary rate of $2/MB over the last two months for Australia. That was set at an affordable level so during my 8 days in Australia I kept data turned on and Vodafone made around $50 from me – did around 3 MB/day.

In July/August I spent a month in Europe. As data roaming cost so much I turned it on as little as possible, and used only 3 MB over four weeks. I just used local wireless networks instead.

So $5/MB, while cheaper than Telecom, still has a long way to go.

12 Responses to “Better, but not yet there”

  1. workingman (98 comments) says:

    Vodafone certainly does need to do something about roaming data charges. With phones like the iPhone the use of data is an integral part of using the phone. When I was over in Melbourne I used the TramTracker app and it was amazing. Literally sit in a restuarant, having the final drink/coffee and watch your tram approach in the iphone in real time, then walk out the door to the tram stop. Of course the data use was horrendous, so I turned it off after 1 day.

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  2. mattyroo (1,073 comments) says:

    Slightly OT, as my rant is about call charges, not data charges, but still pertinent.

    What fucks me off with vodafone is that if you’re on prepay you pay the same rates in Oz, whilst roaming there, as you do in NZ, yet on contract the cunts charge like wounded bulls.

    You try and have a discussion with the thieving pricks about it and they will not listen, yet they will gladly take the sometimes $6000/month in roaming charges from me. So much for looking after their customers.

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  3. Chthoniid (2,064 comments) says:

    I’ve kind of jumped on the smartphone approach of late. This does give you an option at times to connect to WiFi rather than mobile phone carriers. And then you can skype away- voice or IM- very easily.

    I’m wondering if the increasing availability of wifi when you travel, will also start to put pressure on Vodafone etc to reduce their data charges.

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  4. tvb (5,517 comments) says:

    When they have these very high rates just who is their market when there are more competitive solutions available. I guess people like civil servants, and some business people, who have unlimited budgets for this sort of thing and the odd person who gets caught out. Using only 3mb for a month just shows the folly of having these very high rates.

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  5. noj (25 comments) says:

    I am off to Australia shortly and looked at the option of getting a prepaid sim over there just for data, so tried here:

    Vodafone is offering a sim and 1GB of data for $29. $5120 to use my sim for 1GB or a throw away one for $29

    Crazy Johns are doing 2Gb for the same price.

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  6. Paul Brislen (15 comments) says:

    @mattyroo, that’s not quite right. We charge the same rate in Australia that you pay in New Zealand to make calls (so whatever your rate is for a local call over here is what you’ll pay over there) and that applies to both Prepay and On Account customers.

    Customers do also pay to receive a call and pay 80c to send a TXT while roaming but making a call is the same rate as at home for both PP and OA.

    If you want to send me an email about it I’m happy to chase that up for you. is the standard here.

    As for data roaming, what David hasn’t mentioned is that we will also introduce real time alerts so that when you’re roaming and hit 2MB, 5MB and 10MB of data, you’ll be alerted to it. This should help manage the use of data for roamers.


    Paul Brislen
    Vodafone head of corporate communications

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  7. Repton (769 comments) says:

    David, your argument seems to be: “If Vodafone dropped their prices, more people would use roaming data and they would make more money”.

    Well, presumably Vodafone are interested in making more money, so why haven’t they done this? Surely if their 2$/MB promotion had lead to increased profits, they would have extended it indefinitely. Since they haven’t, can we assume that Vodafone were losing money on the deal (or making less money)?

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  8. mattyroo (1,073 comments) says:

    Paul, Thanks for your feedback. I just checked my bills, as I am well aware of how much I have been paying to roam in Australia, let alone when I am in West African shitholes…..

    I apologise, as I was mistaken, what you point out may well be the case when roaming on vodafone’s network in OZ, but because vodafone’s network is so completely fuckin hopeless (read non-existant) in Oz, I see that I have for the majority of calls been on the Telstra network – paying more than $6.45/minute. Nice…..

    I am intrigued to know how your pricing works, because I have just looked up a couple of other bills, and I see that at times I have paid approx $1/minute in Ghana (not complaining), then at times up to $14/minute (ouch) in Ghana….. This certainly doesn’t correlate with your zone pricing.

    Don’t get me started on the fact that you don’t have agreements with a lot of countries, meaning at times I have to go without mobile reception for weeks on end – not conducive to maintaining healthy relations with customers. I ‘spose, at least it saves me money on your criminal roaming charges.

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  9. workingman (98 comments) says:


    I also use prepaid SIMS for data usage in hotels etc. Dodo I think give about the best price. This does not help with data that you want to use on a phone though.

    I agree with one part of Paul Brislen’s comment about rates being the same in NZ as OZ. I think though that you need to request to join this if on a contract, it is not the default.

    As for charging 80c for a text, that is just out right extortion.

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  10. Paul Brislen (15 comments) says:

    @mattyroo sounds like something’s gone wrong there because it doesn’t matter what network you’re on in Australia, you should get billed the same rate. This is our Traveller roaming package (unless you’re on the old one which is possible I guess) but if you email me your details I’ll get someone to figure it all out for you.

    As for roaming destinations, we have access to 215 “destinations” (can’t call them countries as some are principalities or city states etc) for voice and 3G data roaming in over 100 so you shouldn’t find too many places where you can’t use your mobile.

    But do email – the more I think about it the more it looks like you’re on the old roaming plan instead of the simplified Traveller plan.



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  11. peterwn (4,287 comments) says:

    One would think that Vodafone overall would set its Vodafone – Vodafone international roaming rates so as to maximise overall profit. This does not seem to be the case and their shareholders suffer.

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  12. CJD (334 comments) says:

    Poor poor old Labour having to pay for the Mana by election. The ACT candidate will be on unpaid leave and have none of of the party support the iether Fafoi or Piranha will have. Parata is already spending up large on the taxpayers account and no doubt Wirra’s ill-gotten millions will help.
    So Labour MP’s-toughen up and pay your $500 so that you can parachute a convient brown-skinned talking head with no links to the electorate. Hopefully the people of Mana will see through these cheap tricks-even the pasifica community…the one group of the whole lot that deserves more than tokenism and pretence on the party of NATlabour
    It stinks when democracy is given a price and not all candidates are equally able to pay that price without dire personal financial consequences

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