Updated: Vodafone to end free social networking, data charges to change

Changes will affect prepaid customers from 13 February.

Vodafone will soon charge its prepaid customers to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, YouTube and MySpace and will change how it charges for data usage, the telco announced on its website.

“If you currently have infinite social networking included in your recharge, you will still be able to access those sites, but from the 13th of February, your usage will be taken from your data allowance,” Vodafone said. “After you have used that up, surfing will be taken from your Flexible Credit.”

A Vodafone spokesperson said the company decided to end free social networking to eliminate "confusion and worry" when accessing these sites indirectly.

"We recognise the way we now access social networking sites has changed. Where once we would access sites like Twitter and Facebook directly, today there are a range of sites that provide portals to social network sites, eg. Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook for YouTube etc.

"While a customer may be visiting one of the sites listed in the pack, because they’ve entered the site indirectly through a portal, we can’t provide free access to the site - again this can cause confusion and worry."

Data usage for all prepaid plans will be charged in 1MB increments, with a minimum session of 1MB, Vodafone said. This means customers who use less than 1MB each time they connect to the Internet will still be charged for 1MB. Currently, data usage for Flexi Cap Recharge is charged in 25KB increments, with the minimum data session 25KB.

In December Optus announced it would no longer offer unlimited access to social networking sites for new postpaid customers. However, Optus still offers free social networking for prepaid customers.

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