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Vodafone bundles mobile data

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Vodafone has decided to bundle net access with its monthly service packages, whether the punters want it or not.

Like most operators Vodafone has mucked about with data charges, including per-byte charging and walled gardens (some with gates in them). Most recently the company has adopted the flat-but-capped rate that seems to be establishing itself as standard.

Now Vodafone has gone one better by bundling 500MB/month of data with every monthly contract, and anyone already paying £7.50 a month will get their limit upped to 500MB/month too.

That limit is "fair use" too, rather than capped - exceed it a few times and you'll get a warning, take the piss and they'll ask you to move onto a more expensive tariff. Altogether a better arrangement than being hit with an enormous bill 'cos you left your phone downloading Desperate Housewives.

Vodafone has also released some stats on how their customers are using mobile data. Most of them are, apparently, searching for Facebook, Bebo, eBay and Hotmail. More surprising is that Facebook outranks Google in most-visited, so users are socially networking from their mobiles. Other popular destinations include the BBC, in third place, followed by MSN and Bebo. MySpace ranks eighth, reflecting its has-been status; YouTube makes an appearance at tenth, but that could well increase as Vodafone reckons the improved data allowance covers more than 300 90-second YouTube videos.

The new contracts, which start at £25 a month, show how data should simply be part of the basic telecommunications service, and it will be interesting to see how the other operators respond. ®

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