Following Sony Europe's announcement that Vodafone would be the 'preferred partner' for their new portable's mobile data connectivity in the region, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia and Vodafone Australia have mirrored the same announcement locally, meaning that any 3G capable model PS Vita sold at retail here will pack a Vodafone SIM card as standard.
However, while Vodafone's ubiquity in Europe likely makes the most sense for that area of the world, the company's recent network inadequacies here in Australia (that earned them the endearing moniker of Vodafail) will no doubt raise a bit of concern for prospective Aussie Vita owners -- not unlike the jeering when the North American AT&T partnership was announced to the crowd at E3 in June. Seemingly anticipating such criticisms, Sony made sure to remind us in their press release
that old Voda is getting better in Australia.
Vodafone Australia recently announced its accelerated network and service improvements are delivering a better customer experience, with key milestones reached. 900 sites are now live in new the 850MHz network built for smartphones and data, and 2,000 sites in the existing network have been replaced with new equipment. By the middle of next year there will be 1,500 sites in the new 850MHz network and 8,000 sites where equipment has been replaced.
Ongoing usage charges weren't mentioned, but as they haven't been making a song about it being free like Amazon's Kindle, we expect they'll probably be in line with other non-phone mobile data plans like the iPad 3G data rates. Sony have also confirmed that the device won't be carrier locked, so although it ships with a Vodafone SIM, you will be able to use a card from a different provider such as Telstra or Optus.
The 3G connectivity in the Vita will allow users to perform general web browsing and social networking you'd expect from any connected device as well as download smaller games from the PlayStation store, however a download cap will prevent any games larger than 20MB (read: most of them) from being downloaded over 3G.
The PlayStation Vita is due in Australia on February 23rd 2012 with RRPs of AU $349.95 for the Wifi-only version and AU $449.95 for the 3G capable model - pre-orders are now open at usual major retailers.