Vodafone beats EU deadline to abolish roaming charges and offers new SMB plans and customer service improvements
Vodafone is to let all subscribers use call, text and data allowances in 40 European countries and territories and has introduced new plans for SMBs alongside additional customer services.
The operator introduced inclusive roaming allowances to new customers last May, but this marks the first time all users will be covered. However, from 15 June 2017, all roaming charges across the EU will be abolished. This means Vodafone would have to comply by then anyway.
Most of the territories covered are members of the EU, or dependencies of those nations, while others are enclaves or members of the European Economic Area (EEA). Switzerland has bilateral agreements with the EU, while Vodafone has a network in Turkey.
In addition, business and consumers will be able to roam in 60 more countries for £5 a day.
EE offers inclusive roaming in a number of countries as part of its 4GEE Extra plans, but this only covers calls and texts, not data. Three allows its customers to use their call, text and data allowances in a number of countries where it has agreements with local operators – mainly those also owned by its parent CK Hutchison.
“Our new programme will do that over the next few years and will prove our commitment to letting our customers talk, text or stream for a great price, wherever in the world they may be,” said Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO.
Vodafone’s new SMB plans are designed for organisations with up to nine employees and include malware protection, data packages of up to 60GB roaming allowances, data capping and even four hour phone replacement with ‘Vodafone Rapid’.
The company is introducing a chatbot known as ‘TOBI’ to help customers solve basic queiries like phone troubleshooting or order tracking and will delegate to a human assistant if necessary. Vodafone adds it has started employing an additional 2,100 UK customer service agents in the Midlands, North of England and Scotland.
“Our new solutions are built on thousands of conversations with our customers and show our commitment to giving small businesses what they want, for a great price, wherever they may be and whatever stage they are at in their development,” added Phil Mottram, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK.
“With worry free roaming charges, simpler but better tariffs, reliable security and a focus on keeping our businesses connected, our customers now have the ability to do more of what they want, when they want, on our bigger and better network.”
Despite the imminent changes to EU roaming rules, observers have noticed one key advantage of Vodafone’s offering following the budget.
“This will also affect the new VAT charge added to non-EU roaming as Vodafone is effectively cancelling the tax for its customers using data in countries such as Turkey, Switzerland and the Channel Islands,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “An impressive move – and one that raises the bar for other providers.”
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