Vodafone has announced a massive overhaul to postpaid plans, with sweeping changes to lock-in contracts, handset repayments and separate charges for voice, text and data usage so customers know exactly what they're spending.
According to Vodafone, the new plans will give customers better choice and flexibility: but how do they stack up in reality? We take a look at what's different.
For the last 20 years of so, phone carriers have been playing a shrewd game where they bundle network usage with the phone repayments. For much of that time, the network and handset charges were bundled as one number.
That started to change a few years ago with carriers offering network access contracts and phone contracts that were linked but the two charges were separated. Now Vodafone has further split them, offering month to month deals and the ability to purchase a handset completely apart from the network deal.
In simple terms this makes its new plans - which cost between $30 and $100 per month for up to 50GB of data and between 500 texts and unlimited call minutes - into BYO plans. That means you can either buy a handset outright or pay it off, through Vodafone, over 12, 24 or 36 months. And phone accessories like speakers can also be paid off.
If you decide to walk away from the repayment plan you just have to pay it out.
The options Vodafone is offering fall into three groups.
- Red plans: These are 12, 24 or 36 month network plans. Pay between $30 and $100 per month and then add your phone payments or bring your own handset.
- SIM-only plans: Month-to-month access to the Vodafone network that are almost exactly the same as the fixed contract plans other than some of the pricing tiers offering slightly less data (some of the $50 and $60 options offer 2GB less data as some of the Red Plans have some bonus data included). But if you lock these in for 12 months then the data allowances are doubled.
- 12 month SIM-only plans: These are like the SIM-only plans but there's no lock-in period. The downside is the data allowances are halved from the other SIM-only plans.
It's good to see carriers challenging the ingrained market model with some different options. And decoupling the phone completely from the network access makes it far easier to understand exactly what you're paying for.
Here's a closer look at the new plans: