GPRS/UMTS prices sliding in Germany

by Volker Weber

Vodafone has changed their data pricing today. Now you are getting 30 meg instead of 10 meg for 10 Euro. This is actually quite a lot of traffic if you only want to do email. I found that I hardly ever need more than 5 meg a month for IMAP mail (without attachments). 200 meg of traffic go down to 30something Euro.

At the same time however, Vodafone is also starting to block VoIP traffic. That shows that the mobile providers are in serious trouble defending their imbalanced pricing structure. All the traditional services like phone calls and SMS messages are way too expensive. So far they tried to price the data tariffs on the same levels but did not find many takers. As they making those cheaper now the carriers are in danger of competing services within their own network. Taken the amount of data that VoIP generates it becomes cheaper to make phone calls with VoIP then using the standard phone application.


Do I understand you right? Vodafone are blocking VoIP (e.g. Skype) over their mobile network? I thought VoIP via mobile would be w-a-a-a-a-y too expensive compared to VoIP via DSL/POTS to to be interesting for anyone?

John Keys, 2005-07-08

John, that certainly depends on what you have to pay for a regular mobile voice connection. And currently, those are w-a-a-a-a-y too expensive as well... I doubt that Vodafone will be able to block VoIP for permanently. There'll be ways to decoy an VoIP connection to look like other IP traffic, don't you think?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-07-08

Ragnar, sure if you have a gateway somewhere in the internet you can tunnel VoIP over any kind of VPN or very easy via ssh. And if they block IPsec or ssh traffic as well, than it's complete useless because only for surfing around via http it's still too expensive...

Sven Semel, 2005-07-08

This tunneling issue is interesting, I am looking for something like this since long time, also for any kind of IP traffic. Especially after my comp. decided to block all POP traffic to outside the intranet; and I do receive quite a number of my business emails on private email accounts. So, this is annoying, because instead of something sensible I have to use clumsy web-interfaces. Also, I´d really like to be available on my SIP phone number in the office. I somebody were able to give a pointer, I´d definitely buy a beer (or better).

P.S: Just went into the referrer blocker posting this - myabe the same reason. Argh. Have to connect through UMTS to post.

Armin Roth, 2005-07-08

...adding to this: There is a plugin for mail that at least allows me to use hotmail here, probably because it translates POP into HTTP or whatever. Some proxy doing this in teh real world for whichever protocol would be a great relief.

bye... writing this connected through UMTS sitting in the office with broadband :-(

Armin Roth, 2005-07-08

Armin: You might want to look into RPC over HTTP.

Heiko Hebig, 2005-07-08

Heiko, try a Voice-RPC2HTTP-over-WAP-Flatrate :).

Rainer Wasserfuhr, 2005-07-09

@Armin: You could set up an MS Exchange Server and using the RPC over HTTP to access it with the native Outlook Client over HTTP.

Or, you set up an Domino Server and use Domino Web Acces, wich is sort of a webmail, but is anything but clumsy :-) (or you find someone who host is for you)

Or, you set up at your box at home a VPN Gateway and use putty to tunnel your POP requests over the port 80 to your homebox (the quick and cheap solution)


Gregory Engels, 2005-07-10

Just noticed that T-Mobile has also lowered their rates: Same deal, 30 MB for 10€.

Joerg Michael, 2005-07-10

@Heiko, Gregory: thanks a million for the answers - will have to try something; just that I use Mac OS X and and not Win (excludes MS Exchange, or doesn´t it?) and I have to look into the putty stuff to find out if my intellectual capacities are adequate to set it up :-)

.... or does anybody know of a ready-made solution like POP >>>> HTTP >>> POP; an internet proxy, maybe?

I know it´s audacious..... but maybe there´s somebody in this community?


Armin Roth, 2005-07-11

Translation: It costs Vodofone money to run their network. The more traffic there is, the more capacity they have to add. THis costs money. Read that again. (As a general rule, telco capital expenditure is abut 10% of sales. )

If you want to use their network, you have to pay them enough to cover that cost. For marketing reasons, they decided to charge capacity used for data at less than capacity used for voice, and you tried to arbitrage that gap. (A big part of this is the different traffic profile of email downloads and voice). They decided that actually, they'd like the amount you pay for service to match what it costs them to provide their service. Sorry.

Benedict evans, 2005-07-12

Well, the operations of the network are not the main problem here in Germany, here every carrier still has to cope with the "telecommunication tax" that resulted from the auction of the licenses, and the shameless price tag for the UMTS liceses sold. Without the infrastructure vendors support, a lot wouldn´t have happened with regards to network planning and rollout.

Alas, taking all this into account I still don´t want to shell out that kind of money, so I´ll always look out for getting a better price.

And, skimming strategies never work if you want to access a mass market (look for example Minitel in France vs. BTX in Germany)

Armin Roth, 2005-07-13

Hi, I posted a brief overview on my blog on how to set up Windows XP, Putty, and a remote Linux server to run SSH tunnels. Hope it helps. You could also run a VPN client as someone else pointed out.

Anyway, let's hope those mobile data costs keep on dropping - I'd like to see unlimited 3G data packages for €30/month or less.

Sam Critchley, 2005-07-14

@sam: Agreed, and a voice flat rate included would be nice, too. In that case I´d be willing to shell out 100 € a month (hey, that´s just 2.600 € less than my invoice of may :-)) -- still paying off the debt in my bank account....

The idea of a VPN client strikes me as the most doable thing in the moment. Let´s see if that works with NAT (Airport X on both sides).

....see you all later.

Armin Roth, 2005-07-17

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