Australia Scores Vodafone's 'Endless Streaming Passes', But With Capped Speeds

Image: Getty

Only one day after Telstra introduced its new $199 unlimited data pack, Vodafone has joined the party.

The telco is offering a variety of 'passes' that allow customers to stream an 'endless' amounts of different types of media. For a price, of course.

Like Telstra, Vodafone was criticised several months back after offering "unlimited" data plans that had a speed cap of 1.5Mbps if users exceeded 40GB in a month. Two of these 'Red Plus' plans still exist with no mention of the word "unlimited" - but with the same speed cap.

Although Vodafone's pass system is already operating in nine other countries, the timing of its introduction to Australia is convenient. It seems to be a new way the telco can offer a vaguely similar Red Plus service to customers of on lower-priced base plans.

But they aren't free.

Each separate pass costs a certain dollar amount on top of an ordinary bill.

Image: Vodafone

There are four different Vodafone Passes that can be added to a base plan. Each will allow 'endless' usage of certain apps that fall into the designated category.

Usage of these apps won't be included in a customer's monthly data usage, which will come under the usual speeds and guidelines of their plan:

  • Social Pass – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest: $10/month
  • Music Pass - Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Sound Cloud: $10/month
  • Video Pass – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan: $15/month
  • Chat Pass – Facebook Messenger (text), Viber (call and text), WhatsApp (text): $5/month

The passes won't be available to Red Plus customers since they would be superfluous to their plans, which already include 40GB of max speed data before slowing down to 1.5Mbps for all usage.

When Vodafone introduced unlimited plans back in May, the company defended the speed cap. In a statement to Gizmodo Australia, Consumer Business Unit Director Ben McIntosh said:

"Our network engineers have undertaken thorough network testing in a variety of environments at the 1.5mps and believe we have the balance right when it comes to maintaining network capacity and giving customers a great experience."

While this speed may be sufficient for the likes of social, chat and perhaps even music streaming — it's questionable when it comes to video. The minimum requirements for Netflix are 0.5Mbps, so it will work but it probably isn't going to look great. 3.0Mbps is the recommendation for 480p SD quality, and it's going to be below that.

It begs the question of whether it's worth an extra $15 for low quality streaming, even if it is endless. And if perhaps it would be good customer service for some of the lower data usage apps to be offered endlessly for free with regular plans.

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