Vodafone customers who bought a contract with 'unlimited' mobile internet will soon find it is not unlimited.

The network operator will start enforcing limits on internet use from 1 June, despite selling packages previously marketed as offering unrestricted web and email use (see the Cheap Mobiles guide).

However, these deals always had download limits which mobile firms often refer to as 'fair usage' caps, though Vodafone will often turn a blind eye to those who exceed the maximum, but only until next month.

It will soon advertise all its tariffs with the caps, which are one gigabyte (GB) of data for iPhone and Google's Nexus One handsets and 500 megabytes (MB) for all other models (see the Cheap iPhone guide).

Vodafone insists it will issue warnings before charging users who exceed the limit and has admitted previous communication had been unclear.

If customers continue to exceed their data allowance, they will be charged the following:

  • If you have no data bundle. 50p a day for 25MB and 50p for an additional 10MB.

  • If you have a data bundle. You can pay 5 a month for 500MB, where you're tied in for your entire contract; or 7.50, which allows you to cancel at any point.

Loading the MoneySavingExpert.com homepage on an iPhone uses approximately 0.3 MB.

A Vodafone spokesman says: "As the vast majority of our mobile internet subscribers more than 97% never reach the limit they will not receive text alerts.

"The minority of our customers who do come close will receive a text telling them they are exceeding their data allowance and advising them to monitor their usage going forward. At this point customers will not be charged anything more.

"If after receiving several such alerts, over a period of few months, customers continue to use excessive amounts of data they will be contacted by Vodafone and advised to upgrade to another data plan to avoid incurring unnecessary additional charges."

Overseas internet repricing

From 15 June, Vodafone will make it more expensive for frequent internet users overseas but cheaper for casual users.

Charges in Europe are:

  • New charges. 1 per MB for the first 5MBs, then 5 per 5MB blocks (5 charge even if you use extra 1MB)

  • Current charges. 4.99 for every 25MB per day (based on the UK clock)

If you use 25MB in Europe, you currently pay 4.99. Under the new charges, you'll pay 25. But if you use 1MB abroad in Europe, you pay 4.99. Under the new charges you'll pay 1.

Charges in rest of the world are:

  • New charges. 3 per MB for the first 5MBs, then 15 per 5MB blocks (15 charge even if you use 1MB)

  • Current charges. 14.99 for 25MB per day (based on the UK clock)

If you use 25MB in the rest of the world, you currently pay 14.99. Under the new charges, you'll pay 75. But if you use 1MB abroad in the rest of the world, you pay 14.99. Under the new charges you'll pay 3.

Customers using their phone for internet use abroad will receive a text alert when they're about to reach their allowance.

Further reading/Key links

Cut overseas costs: Mobile roaming
Slash mobile costs: Cheap Mobiles
Sell old mobiles: Sell Old Mobiles
iPhone guide: Cheap iPhones