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Telecom pulls Aussie roaming deal out of a hat


DATA ROAMING TO AUSTRALIA
Telecom: $1/MB first 100MB* (NBR rating: expensive)
Vodafone: $5/MB (NBR rating: nosebleed expensive)
2degrees: $30/MB (NBR rating: heart-stoppingly expensive)

* Data beyond 100MB will be charged at the old, eye-popp

Chris Keall
Wed, 10 Nov 2010

DATA ROAMING TO AUSTRALIA
Telecom: $1/MB first 100MB* (NBR rating: expensive)
Vodafone: $5/MB (NBR rating: nosebleed expensive)
2degrees: $30/MB (NBR rating: heart-stoppingly expensive)

* Data beyond 100MB will be charged at the old, eye-poppingly expensive rate of $8 per megabyte, making Vodafone still a better deal for moderate to heavy users. And the Communications Minister still likely to regulate.

NBR understands Vodafone will unveil a new transtasman rate in the New Year.

"Telecom could have had the limelight on a sour telco day. Sadly, no. Mega fail," tweeted Tuanz business development manager Katherine Hall, who saw the offer as an example of marketing confusion.



Faced with an MED investigation into transtasman roaming fees - which is targeting all telcos - Telecom has suddenly found room to slash its price. It's now far cheaper than Vodafone or 2degrees for NZ business travelers going to Australia, the US or the UK - at least for light users.

READ ALSO: Whoops. Vodafone problems hit Gerry Brownlee

The new pricing gives XT customers 100 megabytes (MB) of mobile data for $100 while roaming overseas in these locations -  the equivalent of $1/MB.

Customers will be charged $8MB for the first 12.5MB and a remaining 87.5MB worth of data for the rest of their billing month will be free.

But beyond 100MB, it's back to the bad old wallet-busting rate of $8 per megabyte. So unless you're going to stick with web surfing and email on your smartphone only (as opposed to laptop tethering), Vodafone is still going to work out a better bet for moderate to heavy data users.

Previously, all data was charged at the nosebleed $8/MB rate (or $8000 per gigabyte - an amount of data that's easy to chew through in a couple of weeks of regular email and web surfing if you tether your phone to your laptop).

Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees face an unprecedented transtasman investigation into mobile data roaming rates, plus the way they are presented to customers.

Vodafone recently cut its roaming rate for NZ customers visiting Australia from $10 a megabyte to $5 - a steep cut in percentage terms, but still described by one commentator as an "unacceptable" $5000 per gigabyte (1000MB; by contrast, a domestic mobile broadband user can buy 1000MB or 1GB for around $100; often less).

2degrees maintains that, unlike Vodafone, it doesn't have a sister company in Australia. And it lacks Telecom's scale and bargaining power, the telco says (NBR would add that 2degrees probably also enjoys receiving juicy roaming revenue from Australians who use its network during visits).

The New Zealand and Australian governments are cooperating on the investigation, with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) handling it on this side of the ditch.

The new Telecom pricing is available to all XT customers, both prepaid and postpaid and will be applied automatically to their bill without them having to do anything to activate it before they leave New Zealand.

Telecom will look to add additional destinations to the plan at a later date.

“When travelling overseas the majority of our customers, more than 88%, roam to Australia, the US and the UK so we have started by introducing new pricing to the most popular travel destinations first, with more to follow later,” said Ms Chave.

Suddenly, roaming cheaper for New Zealanders than Aussies
One the face of it, Telecom's new deal suddenly turns the tables - at least once the 12.5MB threshold is passed.

Datasouth managing director Gavin Bennett manages his transtasman company largely from Sydney. During frequent NZ visits, he roams on his Telstra mobile.

Mr Bennett described his setup for NBR: 

"I've locked into a Telstra data plan that gives you 60MB of 3G roaming for $A160. That is, $A2.67 per megabyte [MB]."

The $A2.27/MB rate is available for 15 countries, including New Zealand.

"Telstra's casual rate is $15 per megabyte [MB]. The $160 plan is use-it-or-lose-it, but you can switch it off and on monthly".  Telstra has roaming agreements with 2degrees, Vodafone and Telecom NZ.

"Having travelled a great deal particularly to NZ, really only wanting to use one device for data and phone I've got used to toxic bill shock."

Like many business travelers - and, indeed, most people, Mr Bennett said he did not want to swap between SIM cards (with the attendant phone number switch) as he shuttled between countries

RELATED: CDMA roaming officially killed off today; data death looms

Chris Keall
Wed, 10 Nov 2010
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Telecom pulls Aussie roaming deal out of a hat
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