Vodafone drops prepaid international prices

Number-three telco has targeted global rates in comeback effort

International call rates continue to tumble with Vodafone Hutchison Australia announcing reductions for prepaid international call rates to 12 countries.

Vodafone on Tuesday reduced rates for Bangladesh, Thailand, Lebanon, Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Turkey and Jordan.

The reductions are most significant in Egypt and Iraq, which previously cost 80 cents per minute for all calls to those countries. Under the new Egypt rates, it costs 8 cents per minute to landlines and 11 cents per minute to mobile phones. Under the new Iraq rates, it costs 12 cents per minute to landlines and 14 cents per minute to mobiles.

Vodafone already offered $1 capped calls to India, China, the United States and Singapore, as well as to landlines in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Calls to mobiles in the UK and NZ cost 30 cents per minute plus flag fall.

In addition, until March 3, Vodafone will give 250MB of data to prepaid customers for all international recharges costing $20 or more. The data is valid 30 days from sign up.

The price reductions follow a move by Vodafone to provide international roaming for $5 a day in 46 nations, including the US, UK, New Zealand, most of Europe and several countries in Asia.

Optus and Telstra have followed Vodafone with moves to reduce their own international rates, including a $10 a day roaming plan announced last year by Optus.

Gartner analyst Geoff Johnson said Vodafone’s lead on reducing international calling rates is part of its comeback strategy.

“What’s happened is Vodafone badly needs a great new trick. Apart from the investment in their new network ... this is probably one of the early marketing innovations,” said Johnson.

Johnson said international call rates is a prime area to target, given the “really high level of inquiry and complaint” in Australia over the past two years about how enterprises manage the global rates.

“Vodafone’s $5 a day plan is brilliant ... and caused Optus and particularly Telstra to move within weeks” to cut their own rates, he said. “That’s a consequence of market competition.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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