Vodafone is defending its pricing schedule for GPRS, its next generation network that will be rolled out to customers next month.
It has announced a pricing regime based on a per megabyte usage - starting at $30 per MB. Comments have been made on the difference between that charge and the current schedule, which sees users charged by the minute from around $0.39 a minute, which, at full speed, is roughly $5.50 per megabyte. Vodafone spokeswoman Alison Sykora says that's not comparing apples with apples.
“Take the example of the transport industry - drivers can send back information on their location using GSM phones today. If they’re making 30 deliveries a day, 660 per month, sending back 2604 status messages that would cost of around $396,” says Sykora.
Under the new GPRS pricing scheme that amount of data would be less than 1MB in size and so would cost only $30.
“It’s not a consumer application at this point - the big plan is that all these things, the new technology, become mainstream further down the line.”
GSM phones connect at 9.6Kbit/s - GPRS claims to run at up to 144Kbit/s across the network, although users will experience a much slower speed depending on a variety of factors. Initially GPRS will also be limited even further while new handsets are imported - it won’t be operating at full speed until the end of the year.
The advantage with GPRS is that the phone is always connected to the network, there’s no delay for dialling in to the network before downloading can begin.