June 25, 2008

Net Access on Phones to Cost $1 a Day

VODAFONE will encourage more customers to access websites from mobile phones by letting customers download up to 10 megabytes of data in a day for $1, in a move that appears unlikely to go unanswered by rival Telecom.

The casual mobile broadband rate fundamentally changes Vodafone's business model for selling data services to consumers, mirroring a strategy Vodafone first adopted in Britain, and will be available from July 28.

It currently charges a casual rate of $11.25 a megabyte.

General manager of products and services Kursten Shalfoon says low-cost casual access to the Net will "blow apart the mobile data market". Customers will be charged only on days that they go online, but will pay $1 a megabyte if they exceed the daily traffic cap.

Vodafone will, at the same time, reduce the number of free services available through Vodafone Live.

Customers will incur data traffic charges for downloading tracks from its online music store and for getting games and ringtones from the portal, but not for viewing Sky TV clips or using its Compass mapping service on BlackBerrys.

"Vodafone Live will still bring the best of the Internet to Vodafone customers, but it means customers can decide what they'll want to look at and what they want to get involved with," Mr Shalfoon says.

Data plans aimed at phone users who make more regular use of mobile data start at $39.95, which provides an allowance of 200 megabytes a month.

Telecom's casual mobile data rate is $8 a megabyte, but a change looks likely. A spokesperson says: "We know customers like the flexibility of being able to use as much or as little data as they need each day and we've got a few things in the pipeline that we believe will be compelling for mobile broadband customers."

(c) 2008 Dominion Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.