Vodafone UK is to give up roaming charges to 45 countries, charging travellers only their usual rates for calls and messages home - though they'll still pay through the nose for data.
The Passport service has been around for a while. Users sign up for free and then pay a 64p connection charge for each call which then drops to their usual rate - zero for incoming calls. This change removes that charge and adds text and MMS messaging, as well as putting another ten countries to the supported list and - strangely - removing Japan.
So a punter in France phoning a local hotel gets to use his bundled minutes, which are also used for calls home and even calls to a mate's mobile - and if his mate is on Vodafone too then there'll be no charge to receive the call, even if his mate is in France with him.
Said punter can also happily leave his phone on, in the knowledge that he won't have to pay for incoming calls or messages. The only time he'll pay proper rates is when calling a third country, when the international rate still applies even if he's calling to find out why his mate has wandered into Germany.
The range of countries supported* should cover the vast majority of holidaymakers, and businessmen, as long as they're not planning to cross the pond - meaning it should make a significant difference to mobile phone use over the summer. Still, some might miss the excuse that enabled them to keep the mobile switched off while taking a break. ®
Did we mention that this is a limited-time offer, from June 1 to end of August? No? Well, it is. The more observant will have noticed that it's 45 regions, not countries - we'll leave you to work out which is which.
* That list in full: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Vatican City.