Vodafone defends decision to drop unlimited internet

Vodafone outlines new pricing structure
Vodafone outlines new pricing structure

Vodafone's decision to drop its fair use policy and replace it with a text notification when the user is approaching their data limit has been met with some criticism, and TechRadar has spoken to the network to clarify the issue.

In short, most users on an 'unlimited' internet data plan have had a fair usage cap of 500MB, with iPhone and Nexus One users getting 1GB plus free Wi-Fi in the bundle.

The fair use part of the deal is being scrapped as of 1 June, meaning users that sometimes head north of the 500MB limit will be charged another £5 for an addition 500MB of data, if they have a data bundle as part of their contract.

Those without a pre-agreed data bundle will be charged 50p a day for 25MB and then 50p for an additional 10MB in a 24 hour period.

Changes to service

Forum users have been upset that they haven't been given the 'necessary' 30 days' notification of the service change, but Jakub Hrabovsky, head of Vodafone web relations, confirmed to TechRadar there will only be 14 days' notice, meaning the updates should be sent out this week or early next.

He says that as this isn't a change to a service which requires 30 days' notice but rather the introduction of a fee which only needs 14 days' notification to customers:

"You'll be entitled to end your contract if you can show that the introduction of the new charges has increased your total call and usage charges by more than 10%. This needs to be compared to the same amount of usage in the previous month.

"You must also write to us within the 14 day window indicating that you want to end your contract."

Death to unlimited pricing

However, some users are still upset that the proposed change is coming, despite the fact a number of websites and newspaper advertisements are still claiming you can buy an HTC Desire with unlimited internet (with the fine print pointing to the fair use limit of 500MB).

HTC desire

Hrabovsky said that this is going to change in the near future, and customers should expect to see a new strategy from the network:

"We're cleaning up all our communication around unlimited and you will see the word disappearing gradually from all touch points as we feel that this is only fair to our customers.

"The most important thing for our customers is to know that they can get on line on the go, they know what they pay for and how much.

"The data notifications service will allow them to manage their spend more effectively so they can be checking their Facebook or Tweeting away with confidence on the UK's best network."

We're not sure 500MB is going to be enough for some people - using applications like Spotify or Beebplayer (the iPlayer option for Android) incur significant amounts of data, and while excessive use was not permitted previously, users could often do so for free thanks to the ambiguity of a fair use policy.

Most people will never head anywhere near 500MB of data per month if they just use their phone for mobile internet viewing, but it will be interesting to see how many people feel they need more data just to survive month to month.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.