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Vodafone Australia caps UK, US, NZ global roaming at $5 per day

Vodafone Australia has moved to end global roaming bill shock in New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom, with just an AU$5 daily additional charge.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Vodafone Australia customers who travel to the US, the UK, or New Zealand will now just need to pay an additional AU$5 per day to use their phone while they're in those countries, in a sign that the telco is pushing back against global roaming bill shock.

Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet

Customers signing up to new plans in August will be able to take advantage of the new global roaming plan when visiting the three countries to continue using the text, data, and calls allowed in their current plan in those countries for an additional AU$5 per day.

The company is leveraging its joint parent company, Vodafone Group, as part of the global roaming arrangement, but ZDNet understands that in those countries where the agreement has been enabled, Vodafone has the power to roam customers to networks other than Vodafone, and still retain the same AU$5 daily charge.

In the US, AT&T is the preferred carrier due to the GSM network in place in the country, while it is Vodafone in New Zealand and in the UK.

Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow said that New Zealand, the US, and the UK make up approximately 40 percent of the locations Vodafone Australia customers visit, and around 50 percent of the places where Vodafone customers use data while overseas.

Morrow said that he had heard stories of customers being charged AU$40 just for uploading one photo while overseas, and said it was time this ended.

"We're tired of this, it is no more for Vodafone," he said.

"No one else has been able to address this issue with this simplicity and this low price for our customers."

He said that the move was a game changer that would end the need for customers to purchase SIM cards while overseas.

Morrow said it was not opt in; customers who are on the plans will be automatically eligible for the offer when they arrive in the countries where Vodafone has the offer in place.

The company is now exploring options to expand the offering to other countries as soon as possible.

Morrow said that Vodafone has deals in place with preferred carriers that offer a better price for roaming, but ultimately, Vodafone Australia bears some of the cost of their customers roaming overseas.

Earlier this year, Optus announced that it had begun capping the maximum amount it would charge customers for using their mobile service while overseas at AU$500.

At the beginning of July, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced a new International Mobile Roaming Standard that will come into effect in September and require Australia's mobile telcos to alert customers to roaming charges via SMS when they arrive overseas.

The issue of high charges for using mobiles overseas remains one of the biggest challenges for the telecommunications industry, and can result in the average citizen, or even politician, owing the mobile providers thousands of dollars.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) last year found that there had been a significant rise in the number of complaints to the TIO relating to global roaming bills of over AU$5,000, with one consumer ending up with a bill of AU$75,000 after a nine-week holiday in Europe. The TIO estimated that in 15 months, it dealt with complaints from customers over roaming charges that added up to a total of AU$8 million.

The announcement comes as Vodafone looks to turn its fortunes around with a refocus on customer relations and its new 4G network; however, earlier this month, the company announced that it had lost over half a million customers in the first six months of 2013.

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