The Elephant in the Vodaroom

250 megabytes of data is not enough.

Vodafone are making a lot of noise about the fact that their NZ$80 per month plan is great value. Sure, it might be good value for calls and SMS, but the measly 250 megs of data is going to bite them when people actually start using the phones and get hit with data overage charges.

Here’s the deal: I’m a moderate iPhone 1G user*, and I use between 300 and 500 megs of data every month. If I had a 3G iPhone I expect I would use a lot more data, and especially mapping data with the integrated GPS and Google maps. So lets be generous and say a moderate 3G iPhone user would use 500 megs of data (which is low in my opinion). This is going to cost $25 per month in overage, putting the actual plan cost over $100. It’s totally conceivable that users will hit closer to 1GB of data if they use the iPhone as a navigation device, use push email, and have more than a couple of apps using Apple’s background updates.

I suspect these plans will haunt Vodafone for some time to come. I’m hoping that it will highlight just how crazy mobile data charges are at the moment.

*Here’s a rundown of my iPhone usage so you can compare against your projected usage on 3G:

  • I browse the internet (Twitter and Google reader primarily) for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours per day on GPRS (depending on how much WiFi I use).
  • I have 2 different IMAP email accounts (GMail and work) set to check every 30 minutes, and receive maybe 20-50 email headers per day. I would only read 5 of those in full using GPRS.
  • I use Google maps probably 2-3 times per week to locate an adddress. No real-time navigation obviously.
  • I check the weather using the iPhone weather app maybe once a week. No idea how much it checks in the background.

So there you go. I would estimate that my usage would double if I were to get a 3G iPhone, based on faster browsing, real-time mapping, and various app store usage.


  1. As you say, what’s the point of having the iPhone if you can’t use its functions without being burnt in the pocket by your Teleco.

  2. This is my only problem too, I would pay these prices as they are extreme but not unreasonable. As long as there was unlimited or practically unlimited data (5GB+)

  3. I’ll also be sticking with my iPhone 1G Other than the 3G speed and GPS, the new iPhone does not bring a lot to the table. It still has the same crappy 2 MegaPixel camera. It appears to have the same sized screen, the same speakers, the same microphone with a few cosmetic re-designs. If the speed issue isn’t do-or-die for you, this is the upgrade to skip. You’ll pay a lot of money for little more than a design bump.

    Frankly, Apple would be foolish if they didn’t have a better iPhone already in the works–one with a decent camera and other upgraded features. The 3G iPhone that goes on sale Friday, represents nothing more than last year’s iPhone–that finally got delivered a year late.

    At least wait a couple of months, I’m sure we’ll see the price tumble as we did with the 1st gen. Or lets see where in the world we can buy the cheapest off contract 3G iPhone and simply import and unlock.

    One nice thing… My iPhone is gonna stay sorta exclusive šŸ™‚

  4. Imho the NZ market is unlikely to even have decent data rate plans for mobile devices given the size of the customer base and the infrastructure here – there’s simply not enough competition, and the market is too small for the Telcos to warrant taking the hit.

    What are the options for Aussie iPhone 3G users btw? That would be an interesting comparision…

  5. >Iā€™m hoping that it will highlight just how crazy mobile data charges are at the moment

    You people really don’t get it. The reason prices are high is because there’s demand at these price points (demand = want PLUS will pay for). Mobile data usage is growing at ~50% annually AT THESE PRICES. When the demand tails off prices will fall – think plasma TVs etc.

    Also, unlimited data is just childish dreaming. Infrastructure costs big gobs of someone else’s money. Talk to someone who actually knows i.e. signs off the invoices to the contractors, not the clueless who think they might know. Running more backhaul costs a sh!tload by the time you’ve done community consultation, resource consents blah blah.

    And it’s a lot more expensive over mobile than fixed, until you run out of fixed capacity when that conversation gets a bit more complicated i.e it depends ;-).

    Finally don’t worry about the price in Singapore or wherever. Singers is about the size of the North Shore – how about a deal for 15c/min say on the North Shore and international roaming rates elsewhere in the country ‘cos that’s the real comparison. Actually 2 degrees is going to face costs like this so watch this space…

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