Vodafone has moved to shut down a strange glitch in its system that allowed customers to use BitTorrent, make Voice over IP (VoIP) calls, check email and do online banking, all without being charged for data usage.
According to a representative posting on the broadband enthusiast website Whirlpool, when customers were using peer-to-peer services, VoIP or sites that required a personal log-in, the data usage was not being charged through Vodafone's billing system. According to the representative, the issue affected both prepaid and post-paid customers who used their mobiles to access data directly and as a tethered device to access the internet on their PC.
The company is advising customers of the changes ahead of time in order to "help ... avoid unnecessary bill shock".
"This does not mean that you are now going to see extra or excess charges, but instead more accurate data usages, as we will be now capturing all data traffic. Data usage will continue to be charged at the same rate and from under your plan's data allocations," the representative said.
ZDNet Australia approached Vodafone for comment as to how much network traffic this data accounted for; however, no response had been received at the time of writing.
The telco has advised customers to keep tabs on their data usage through Vodafone's online portal, or by calling 1512.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) noted in its recent report into customer service for the telecommunications industry that "bill shock" is far too commonplace in the industry, and has recommended that telcos offer better account management tools to deal with the problem. Vodafone rival Telstra has recently sought to address this issue by introducing shaping for data usage on its Next G network. This means that once a customer has surpassed their monthly data usage limit, their usage is curtailed by throttling their access speed rather than being hit with excess usage charges.