My 6-month plan
15 March 2002
Written by Richard Browning
With new, more advanced phones coming out every week, the mobile communications industry is one of the fastest paced industries around. Why then do we have contracts which last for 24 months? When phones are virtually obsolete in less than a year, why do most phone contracts continue for twice as long? Up until just recently, mobile phone contracts didn’t make much sense. It was with this in mind that Vodafone decided to make planned life a lot easier by introducing its 6-month contracts.
The general trend in the communications industry at present is to move away from subsidising phones. Basically, this means a move away from plans and contracts where the price of the phone is included in the monthly repayments. Carriers have tried pre-paid cards and 12- and 18-month plans with some success. Vodafone have taken a very large step towards this goal with their new 6-month contracts. On the lower end of their plans (My choice 17, 22 and 33) contracts have been changed from a duration of 24 months to only six months. This means that you can change phones virtually as they are released and not be stuck with the “state-of-the-art” phone from 2 years ago which is now only useful as a weapon for self defense on the train!
“But what’s the catch?” I hear you say. How do they still get the same amount of profit in only 6 months, as compared to 24?
Firstly, the price of the handset goes up. Whilst a 3310 on a 24 month plan may have been free, a 3310 on a 6 month contract may be $120 up front. This means that the six month plan is great if you bring your own handset, but is more expensive up front if you don’t. With the 24 month plan, the overall cost was spread across 24 months, but now the price is spread across 6 months and an upfront cost.
Secondly, the call costs are slightly higher. This isn’t because they are 6 month plans, but more because they are the lower end plans ($17, $22 and $33 per month).
So what do you get? On the three plans available as six month contracts, My Choice 17, 22 and 33, you get all of your monthly fee as included calls, competitive call rates billed by the second (see table below) and only six months of being tied down. There is no connection fee and if you choose to buy the handset with the contract, you get a fair discount off the outright price. Deposits to voicemail are free but there is a cost to retrieve them. Best of all is free calls to other Vodafone mobiles; 8pm to 8am Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday the first 20 minutes is free.
(per 30 seconds)
(billed per second)
|My Plan 17
||Up to $17*
|My Plan 22
||Up to $22*
|My Plan 33
||Up to $33*
must be used during peak periods, and 50% must be used during off peak periods.
^ Flag fall is charged on alls over the value of free calls (including included
° Includes all calls (including Flag fall, 1223, 123, My Vodafone Services,
IDD and Thruconnect charges) except MobileBank, Globalstar, mobile originating
Also news from Vodafone, as of Thursday 14th March, there are now no fixed exit fees. Before the 14th, if you aborted a contract before its finish date you would have to pay the remainder of the money owing on the handset as well as a $220 exit fee. That $220 exit fee has now been abolished, leaving Vodafone contract holders free to pay off the remainder of their current phone only, and then be free to choose another plan, carrier or phone. Vodafone is the first network to offer such freedom to leave a contract and, hopefully, will set a precedent on the other networks to follow suit.
In my opinion, Vodafone are offering the least confusing plans out of all the networks. The call rates are average but there are no hidden charges or excessive costs. Free calls for 20 minutes to other Vodafone users from 8pm to 8am is great, and all day Sunday is even better. Best of all, 6 months is short enough to not be tied down and burdened by your mobile phone contract. Having looked around, I think the Vodafone 6-month plans are perfect if you’re bringing your own handset or are in the market for a new one and not wanting to be tied down by a long contract. More secure than pre-paid but not as jail-like as a 24 month contract.
This article is proudly sponsored by
Sunday Communication - Vodafone Premium Dealer