Vodafone Australia is chopping the cost of data roaming in New Zealand to 25c per megabyte, or as little as 10c/MB for bulk purchases.
The drop in prices, effective from 8th July, follows its New Zealand counterpart recently dropping the cost of roaming into Australia to 50c/MB.
However, travellers must contact Vodafone and request the special rates before travelling, otherwise they'll still be charged the standard $10 per megabyte fee.
Vodafone is making the discounted data roaming for New Zealand available in 'data pack' form, where travellers must pre-buy a certain amount of data.
The new NZ Roaming Packs:
|Monthly data pack||Megabytes|
One interesting aspect of the deal is that travellers do not have to manually select the Vodafone New Zealand network. Vodafone Australia confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the data packs are valid on other New Zealand networks too, such as the ultra-speedy Telecom XT network.
The fine print
Like most things involved with mobile telcos, there are some catches.
- If a traveller doesn't use all the data they've bought while they're on their NZ trip, the remainder is forfeited.
- If they go over the pack limit, they'll be charged at a $2/MB rate (admittedly much less than the standard roaming rate, but still a lot.)
- Vodafone will also continue billing the New Zealand roaming pack on a monthly basis, until the customer rings up and asks for it to be removed, which will no doubt tip more 'accidental' fees into Vodafone's coffers.
While it's good that there are more reasonably priced roaming options now available to Vodafone Australia customers, it's disappointing that Vodafone has chosen to make it an 'opt-in' thing that customers must remember to request.
The fact that the billing recurs monthly is also not very customer-friendly, as few people travel to New Zealand every month.
Given these roaming packs are something that a customer has to actively opt-into, they might as well buy a local SIM card when they get there, which will cost less, and offer more data.
We recently looked at the Telecom XT SIM card, which is readily available across New Zealand and, for $30, provides 500MB data on Telecom's high performance Next G-style network.
Roaming prices between New Zealand and Australia have been the subject of a joint government enquiry into why carriers have been charging rates as high as $20 per MB, despite the low cost of providing roaming data services.
As Australian Business Traveller recently revealed, Optus is by far the worst carrier for shaking down travelling Australians for data roaming fees, charging a flat $20/MB worldwide.
Telstra charges $15 and Vodafone $10 per MB, except in New Zealand with the introduction of these changes.