Good news for smartphone users after Vodafone announced it is lowering the cost of web browsing for its users whilst aboard
Vodafone may have triggered a price war over the cost of using a smartphone for data roaming whilst abroad in Europe.
Vodafone said that it is looking to make it much simpler to customers to email, access social media sites and surf the Internet abroad with its ‘Vodafone Data Traveller‘ service, which are available for consumer or business customers.
Occasional travellers can take their domestic data plan abroad for only £2 per day, which according to Vodafone represents a cost reduction of up to 60 percent over existing plans and includes an increase to the data allowance to 25MB of data. Meanwhile frequent travellers can select to take a £10 per month price plan which includes the same daily data allowance of 25MB.
£2 For 25MB
Pay as you go customers will automatically benefit from Vodafone Data Traveller and pay just £2 a day for each day you use it. However for users with a £40 monthly price and at least 900 minutes, will automatically get 25MB a day at no extra cost.
“This is the year of the smartphone and we want our 35 million European data users to feel free to use their devices in Europe in the same way as they do at home,” said Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone. “We expect smartphone sales in Europe to grow from 32 percent today to more than 70 percent by 2013, and we want to drive that growth with what we believe to be the best value, market-leading roaming data packages.”
The new plans are being rolled-out in Vodafone’s major European markets during November and December 2010, in time for the holiday season, and across the company’s entire European footprint by summer 2011.
Costly Data Roaming
Many consumers are aware of the horror stories of large mobile bills from data roaming charges whilst aboard. And earlier this year, the European Union ruled that mobile phone operators must reduce the “exorbitant” amounts they charge customers to use their phones while abroad. They said mobile data roaming costs should be capped at 50 euros (£42).
The move comes at a time when the mobile industry is seeing increasing takeup of smartphones among users. Indeed, in August ABI Research warned that mobile data use in Western Europe is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 42 percent from 2009 to 2015, leading to fears of overloaded mobile networks struggling to deal with the volumes of data.
UK mobile networks have already been struggling with this problem for a while now, with many being forced to scrap their unlimited data plans, in the face of traffic overload from bandwidth-hungry smartphones. Mobile operator 3 was the latest to scrap its unlimited data plan in July, following similar moves by O2 and Vodafone.
It now remains to be seen whether Vodafone’s move will trigger other operators to also cut their data roaming charges.