Data tariffs for the Apple iPad - what are Vodafone afraid of?

10 May 2010

So the Apple iPad is available to pre-order today, before the UK launch on 28 May - unlike the US launch, both the WiFi and 3G versions will be available at the same time. So if you're fancying a 3G fist of fun, how much will a data tariff cost you?

Three service providers are offering tariffs for the iPad - O2, Orange and Vodafone. None, however, are offering unlimited data plans - unlike AT&T in the US. Instead, these are the tariffs you'll have to choose between - as listed on the Apple website:

Bitterwallet - Apple iPad data prices

At first glance it doesn't look too unreasonable; 3GB for £15 per month is the going rate for mobile broadband. Orange are also offering data access at a rate of 5p per MB of usage each month, up to £40 per month. But what's going on with Vodafone? Not wanting to piss on their parade anymore than we have recently, but 250MB per month for a tenner? O2 are offering 1GB for the same price, and both Orange and O2 are offering 3GB per month for £15. Vodafone are also charging 5GB per month for £25, while Orange offer double that amount for the same price (as well as unlimited access through BT Openzone hotspots).

Vodafone seem to be actively discouraging customers from buying data tariffs for what will be a massively sought-after product, in the same week they announced their intention to scrap their Fair Use Policy for all mobile customers. They'll pick up some customers from the iPad through consumer loyalty, but they certainly aren't interested in adding to the data capacity they're already handling.

Considered in isolation, the data capping for all mobile customers looks like a hamfisted and unfair attempt at managing capacity for the future. But consider that news alongside this announcement. Presented with the birth of new platform that will undoubtedly drive growth and revenue in mobile data - and Vodafone have effectively shunned it. Why are Vodafone doing everything they can to put people off using data on their network?

UPDATE - seems there's been an update in Vodafone's pricing, possibly following the outcry from customers this morning; the 3GB for £25 tariff remains the same, while a tenner now buys you a 1GB which is at least in line with what O2 have to offer.

TOPICS:   Gadgets


  • MayContainNuts
    Looks to me like Vodafone are either having, or foreseeing, major problems with their data network and the amount of traffic they can cope with on it. Have they broken themselves with the iPhone?
  • Jeffro
    Good on Vodafone. They are a professional network for business and other important users. Discouraging people from using the network for the downloading of fart sound effects software and twittering and watching iPlayer is a good thing, if it means my BlackBerry system remains reliable and fast. Cheap data and iPhone exclusivity brought o2's network to its knees. Very poor management. Good to see Vodafone don't want to follow suit.
  • Steve
    What's wrong with Voda's pricing? I mean, if people are stupid enough to buy an overpriced iPad, they deserve to be fleeced!
  • Klingelton
    what's wrong with vodafone? They're cunts.
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGayIsGay
    @Klingelton Maybe so, but they're slightly less cunts than the alternatives. Maybe Voda have actually accurately looked at the real cost of data and the impact on their network this may bring, unlike what O2 did, just bunging data contracts around for silly prices then collapsing as they fail to be able to actually provide what they've sold...
  • Klingelton
    i'm with orange at the moment (first time with em) and i have to say they've come out on top so far. much better customer service that voda. Voda were absolute bastards to me, and i can see them being bastards to their customers when they try to cancel their contracts in fear of beign over charged for data usage.
  • Meh
    There are 3 ways to scale your data network as load increases. Either you degrade service, increase capacity or limit usage. O2 and AT&T (in the US) chose to degrade the service. Increasing capacity is expensive and time consuming because you need to upgrade lines from many towers and/or upgrade the tower hardware. Limiting usage is harder because the operator has no way of knowing which traffic is important to you so they can't prioritise well. Fortunately, through the magic of pricing, it's possible to get people to decide what's important themselves. We all want cheap, fast, unlimited data but can only pick 2 from that list. As someone who's recently switched an iPhone from an "unlimited" O2 data plan to a 500MB Vodafone one, I know which I prefer.
  • The B.
    What's all this about Vodafone degrading the 3G service? What 3G service? I work in Docklands and can't get anything resembling a service and at home I'm lucky if I can even get a signal, they're overcharging because the network's already overloaded, nothing to do with not shafting it by putting more users on.
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGayIsGay
    @Klingelton - You don't think thats how all networks start? They're good when they're wanting to sell you the phone in the first place (and the first few weeks incase you get any troubles and want to cancel), but after that they don't really care. I've been with all the networks, several times, many times with both personal and different work contracts (Managing 20-30 mobiles through each network). Voda support (especially business) beats Orange support. Orange business support is pretty good though and not far off the mark. O2 support/business support are both absolutely dire and I would never use them again, especially for business. T-Mobile are just a joke. Three aren't even worth mentioning.
  • Klingelton
    i don't class 3 as a mobile phone provider. i class them as crooks. Tied me into a 18 month contract that i couldn't ask to be cancelled until the 18th month was over, effectively a 19 month contract. bastards!
  • Pheonix
    3 customer services are dire, however in their favour they are the only network provider who seem to have realised that the mobile market is moving towards the network providers being just dumb data pipes, so they always seem to provide the best mobile data packages. Voda more than most seem to be resisting this change, so i think they may suffer with all the new mobiles coming out requiring constant data connection
  • Flamey B.
    I use a 3 PAYG sim in my iPhone. You get 9GB for £25 which expires after 3 months. So I just top up £25 every 3 months. I live in central London and the speed is really good, not sure about their coverage outside of London, I'm seeing bare hate in the comments above though. I'm thinking of getting a 3 sim and circumcising it to fit in my iPad. 9GB will do me fine.
  • man s.
    If a deal appears also good to be real - it almost certainly is. Apple manufactured a lot of pleasurable of Google Television when it released its own Apple Television set. In buy to find this sort of service providers, make on the web look for. You as well can enjoy all the added benefits of Online television.

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