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Vodafone Australia backflips on per-megabyte data charges

Vodafone Australia has reversed a decision that would have seen some prepaid customers charged per megabyte rather than per kilobyte used.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

In the face of strong criticism from customers over its decision to start charging per megabyte rather than per kilobyte of data used for some prepaid services, Vodafone has decided to switch all prepaid data charges to per kilobyte.

Vodafone announced to customers earlier this month that it intends to change its prepaid plans from mid February. The changes would remove unlimited access to Facebook, YouTube, and a number of other social-media websites, as well as introducing charging in per-megabyte blocks. This would have meant that even for sessions that only use a couple of hundred kilobytes, the session would be charged as though at least 1 megabyte was used. So, services that use less than 1 megabyte, such as iMessage, would appear to use much more data than previously.

However, in a press release titled "#Vodafix," as a play on the "#Vodafail" Twitter hashtag that gained prominence during the height of the company's network and customer service issues in 2011, Vodafone said that it would switch from the per-megabyte charge back to a per-kilobyte charge.

Vodafone said that it surveyed 10,000 customers prior to Christmas about the proposed change to a megabyte charge, and said that it received "general acceptance." However, following feedback after the announcement, it has decided to switch all prepaid plans to be charged per kilobyte — not just the ones that were originally due to switch to a megabyte charge.

"There's no denying data pricing is confusing, industry wide. Our intention is to introduce a consistent rate across our prepaid plans, and there's more than one way we can do this," Vodafone's director of Customer Care Cormac Hodgkinson said.

"We have decided to not only reverse our decision to introduce per MB charging; we'll also be dropping the existing minimum data session to 1KB for all our prepaid customers."

The change will affect 2.6 million prepaid customers, and affects 20 prepaid plans. The original proposal would have changed six plans, and would have affected 117,000 customers.

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