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Vodafone's new data-roaming charges force you to travel light

Vodafone has unveiled new data-roaming charges. It's good news for the lightest of Web users but a kick in the happysack for heavy users

Vodafone will revamp its data-roaming charges next month, in what is good news for light users but not so great for the rest of us. Also, Vodafone has yet to clear up the controversy surrounding the scrapping of its UK data fair-use policy and introduction of heinous new charges.

From 15 June, customers will be charged for each MB of data used while abroad. In Europe, the first 5MB will cost a pound each, so, if you only use 3MB, you'll pay £3. Each subsequent 5MB chunk will cost £5. That means you'll be charged £10 if you use 6MB. Outside Europe, multiply the prices by three: you'll be charged £3 per MB up to the first 5MB, then £15 per 5MB.

Currently, customers pay £5 for up to 25MB or £10 for up to 50MB of data in Europe. Outside of Europe, they pay £15 for up to 25MB, or £30 for up to 50MB. 

We're glad that the new initial usage charges are incremental, so, if you sneak a quick look at your email, you'll only pay for what you use. To avoid a shock when the bill comes, contact Vodafone and set a data limit at which usage is automatically stopped.

But Web addicts and business users will be hit with hefty charges. iPhone-owning Vodafone customer Dean Bubley has worked out that his 25MB data-roaming bill just quintupled. That almost makes us glad we're stuck in Blighty. Oh -- if you're going to the World Cup, calls to the UK from South Africa will be cheaper in June and July, but you'll still be slapped with a 75p connection charge.

This news comes hard on the heels of a change in Vodafone's data charges while wandering the streets of the UK. Vodafone kicked off the controversy last week with the announcement that it would scrap the fair-use policy, charging anyone who uses over 500MB of data. 500MB is meant to be a guideline, and you're currently allowed to exceed the cap, with the only consequence being Vodafone asking you to, like, chill out.

That's set to change on 1 June. The first 500MB will still be free for pay-monthly customers, but Vodafone plans to charge £5 for every subsequent 500MB. If you don't have a monthly allowance, you'll get a scant 25MB free and then it'll cost 50p for every 10MB. Customers exceeding their cap will be encouraged to upgrade to pricier contracts. Vodafone is twisting itself into semantic knots to avoid the prospect of customers cancelling contracts because the charges breach the company's terms and conditions.

Data charges are a headache, a nightmare and a minefield, all wrapped up in a big spiky ball of backside-punishing pain. Fortunately, we're here to explain how much mobile data you really need. If you're a disgruntled -- or even gruntled -- Vodafone customer, let us know in the comments section whether you've been kept in the loop or the dark concerning the new charges.