Hey Vodafone, you see that hornets' next over there... why don't you kick it?
My oh my here's something to get the blood pressure boiling: Vodafone has announced it will not only be scrapping fair usage allowances on its mobile phone data tariffs, but also introducing aggressive new pricing to replace it.
In a hugely surprising post on its own forum Vodafone administrators announced: "We are planning to introduce Out Of Bundle charging for Pay Monthly customers from 1st June 2010. The reason we're introducing these charges is to make it fairer for everyone, and to protect our network from data abuse. We're introducing a real-time notifications service to be completely transparent about these charges and keep customers in control of their spend. No Out Of Bundle charges will happen this month but they will take effect from 1st June."
Monthly bundle customers will pay £5 for every 500MB after the first 500MB
Customers without a monthly bundle will pay 50p for every 10MB after the first 25MB
Vodafone explains: "Whilst you've all previously been used to there not being any Out Of Bundle charging, the current information available online is clear in explaining that we could introduce such charging at any time." They also said the reasoning behind the decision: "is to make it fairer for everyone, and to protect our network from data abuse."
Now wait a cotton picking fricking minute Vodafone weren't you the network who spent all of last year boasting you had the fastest and most robust data network in the country? (contrary to Ofcom results). Weren't you the operator who said all your years of BlackBerry experience would mean you could take high data consuming handsets like the iPhone and not bat an eyelid? Well oh dear me.
The fact is while you "could introduce such charging at any time" it is extremely regressive to do so, especially when setting such a measly limit as 500MB per month. Streaming apps like Spotify, Last.fm and numerous Internet Radio clients are now commonly available on powerful smartphones like the 3GS, HTC Desire and Legend so topping 1GB per month isn't unrealistic for many. Furthermore, O2 removed data restrictions in 2007 and Orange announced it was lifting its 750MB per month cap in 2009 so this runs completely counter to market forces.
Perhaps the most worrying part of all this is whether other networks will be greedy enough to follow Vodafone's lead and do the same. That said I expect its decision to be widely pilloried and adjusted (750MB/1GB per month?) very soon...