If you’ve not heard already, then the big news today is Vodafone’s change in policy regarding their “unlimited data” which is included in almost all their contracts. Their policy until now was you got a 500MB cap (though the plan states unlimited), but there’s no forced restriction of that limit.  It’s a fair usage policy so that if you went a bit over the quota they probably wouldn’t do anything.  If you went massively over the cap then they might ring you and ask you to calm it down, and if do it again they’d charge you for it.  Which sounds well and good: “we’ll be flexible with you but don’t take the p***”.

The changes to their terms now means that the Fair Usage Policy won’t be in play from next month.  Instead if you go over the 500MB limit, you pay another £5 for an extra 500MB allowance (not clear yet if it’s £5 even if you go 1/2Mb over, or if it’s Pay-Per-MB).

The original terms:

27. All Vodafone services offered free or under unlimited subscription are subject to our Fair Use Policy. If, in the reasonable opinion of Vodafone, your use is excessive, we may ask you to moderate your usage. If, after we have asked you to moderate your usage, you fail to do so, we reserve the right to:

(a) charge you for the excessive element of your usage at your price plan’s standard rate;
(b) throttle your usage; or
(c) suspend or terminate your service in accordance with your airtime terms and conditions.

And the new terms:

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. The messages you’ve received this month were sent in error and no more will be sent out from today.

The charging will be as follows:

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

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.

So, what does this mean for you as a HTC Desire (or any other smartphone owner)? Data is something you’ll definitely need a lot of if you’re a Desire owner – just think about often your phone connects to the net:

  • E-Mail accounts
  • GTalk and other IM apps
  • RSS Readers/News Applications and Widgets
  • Access to the Market to download updates and new applications
  • Twitter/Facebook and other social networking apps
  • Web browsing and videos via YouTube, BeebPlayer and other websites

Well, you can see from above that all that does add up, and fair enough you might have WiFi at times, but a lot people might not at times.  Personally, I’d say that 500MB is definitely not enough although you’ll probably hear from clueless reps at Vodafone about how that’s more than enough, don’t buy into it.

What Next?

For now the way they’re introducing this ridiculous change is offering extra Internet as an addon, which they claim isn’t breaking the terms of your contract so you can’t cancel.  However, the folks at Bitterwallet have pointed out that no matter how they try to cover themselves, this is effectively a change in contract and therefore customers should be able to get themselves out of the contract.  It’d be interesting to see how it goes.

T-Mobile provides 3GB on their unlimited plan, O2 don’t specify but I’ve never had any issues with them, Orange allow 500MB – all of them with the fair usage policy so you’re not charged for going over.  I hope they don’t follow in Vodafone’s tracks.

via Bitterwallet