Vodafone Australia will extend its $5 per day international roaming plans to Europe this month.
Travellers to 34 countries across the continent will be able to use the globetrotter-friendly Red plans from October 7th, in addition to the current footprint covering the UK, New Zealand and the USA.
Those countries are Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
So yeah, that's a lot of roaming.
Vodafone's Red plans let you use the call, text and data allowance of your Australian plan in those countries for an extra $5 per day. This includes unlimited standard calls and text messages back to Australia as well as the country you're currently in.
“This is the second step we are taking towards making overseas smartphone use affordable for Australian customers and business travellers" said Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Bill Morrow.
"We had a huge response when we announced our plans included the US, UK and NZ for just five bucks a day, so we pushed hard to include Europe before the Christmas holiday season kicks off.”
The Red plans begin at $50 for a SIM card to use in your current smartphone, with monthly data allowances spanning from 1.5GB to 5GB, with add-on data packs of 1GB and 2.5GB.
Fine print revisited
Vodafone has also moved to clarify a clause in its terms & conditions which specifies that "Red Roaming may be used for a max 45 days in any calendar year".
After all, six weeks out of 52 isn't much for the serious business traveller, especially on trans-Tasman hops.
Following enquiries from Australian Business Traveller, a Vodafone Australia spokeswoman indicated that the 45 day ceiling exists primarily as a "fair use" policy to prevent specific cases of abuse and isn't intended to cramp the style of the jet-setting business traveller, who won't suddenly find their roaming disabled on their 46th day overseas.
"Our roaming offer is the most competitive in Australia and we have included what is effectively a 'fair use' policy to prevent fraud or arbitrage" the spokeswoman said.
"We want to prevent fraudulent activities, for example, an overseas operator purchasing SIMs to be sold solely for use in the UK, US and NZ. What this policy effectively means that Vodafone customers are free to roam overseas on holidays and business regularly but cannot be solely based overseas."
Vodafone's Red plans explained
The Red $65 plan ($50 on a SIM-only basis) includes 1.5GB of data plus unlimited calls to all Australian mobile and landline numbers except for the usual set of 13, 1800 and ‘premium’ numbers.
Dialling those digits or calling overseas comes out of the $65 value. Texts to all Australian and international mobiles are free of charge, although as with all such unlimited deals you'll be subject to a fair use policy to prevent Red rorting.
The Red $80 plan ($65 on a SIM-only basis) gets you 2.5GB of data with the same deal on unlimited Australian calls and worldwide SMS messages.
The Red $100 plan ($85 on a SIM-only basis) raises the data roof to 5GB of data, again with the same infinite talk and text deal.
Add-on data packs are available at 1GB for an extra $10 per month and 2.5GB for $20 per month.
Note that bundling a data pack with a Red plan can deliver more data at a relatively lower cost: for example, the Red $65 plan plus a $10 data pack gives you the same 2.5GB of data as the Red $80 plan for $5 less per month.
This is how you can tailor your plan if you value data over the voice allowance, and it’s especially suited if you’ll be using your smartphone as a wi-fi hotspot or tethering via a USB cable.
However, data packs can be bought only on a 12-month contract, while the Red plans themselves are available on a month-by-month basis.
Australian support is part of the Red recipe, with all support calls answered by a support centre based in Hobart rather than being flung off to India or the Philippines.
Roam like home
Subscribers can travel to any country covered under the Red roaming scheme and access the voice and data allowance of their home plan (there’s no need to worry about texts, as they’re always free to all mobiles worldwide).
For example, hop across the pond to NZ or take the Kangaroo Route all the way to London and you’ll be able to draw on the 2.5GB of your Red $80 plan for $5 per day.
Even more appealing is that all calls to mobiles and landlines in those countries will be free, as will calls back to Australian mobiles and landlines – that’s what Vodafone’s ‘Roam Like Home’ mantra means. It’s as if your mobile phone is just an extension of the Aussie service.
Only calls to other countries, pus those pesky 'premium numbers', will be tallied against the plan’s nominal voice value.
If you exceed your plan's monthly talk or data limits while overseas you'll be billed based on Australian pricing rather than standard global roaming rates.
Vodafone's $5 per day charge starts as soon as you switch on your smartphone in NZ, the USA or the UK – there’s no special setup or advance notice required – and each billing cycle lasts for 24 hours.
To pause the roaming surcharge, switch off your phone or disable the telephone network access and rely on wi-fi hotspots for the Internet.
Roam free, onto any network
Red subscribers will be automatically roamed onto a local partner network once they activate their phone overseas – in the UK and New Zealand this will be Vodafone, while the US partner is AT&T.
However, Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow assured Australian Business Traveller that even if you roam onto another network, Vodafone will honour the $5/day deal rather than hit you up for rapacious roaming fees.
“This was a fundamental principle, not to make it your problem when you can’t stay on the preferred network” Morrow said.
“So we will absorb the higher cost, because keeping it simple was a design criteria of the Red plans all the way through. You shouldn’t have to worry about the bill, no matter what.”
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