O2 mirrors AT&T, dumps iPhone unlimited data plan

UK network provider O2 has followed in the footsteps of their American counterparts by scrapping unlimited data plans for the new iPhone 4.

With the release of the next iPhone looming, O2 has announced its new data plans and their prices. Calling the new plans a "more transparent pricing model tied to usage", O2 claims based on current usage patterns, 97% of O2 smartphone customers would not need to buy additional data allowances, "as the lowest bundle (500MB) provides at least 2.5 times the average O2 customer’s current use."

The new data plans mean customers spending between £25-£35 a month will receive 500MB, those spending £40-£45 will receive 750MB a month and if you're happy to part with a £60 a month you'll get a measly 1GB.

All the tariffs will feature unlimited Wi-Fi, and all 3G data packages for new and upgrading customers will be unlimited until 1 October as part of a promotion to cushion the blow. Existing customers not wishing to upgrade will be able to keep their current contract with true unlimited data. New customers joining O2 before June 24 will also receive the existing unlimited data deal.

O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: “We know that customers are looking for clarity in pricing as too many offers have clauses and catches which are not easy to understand. With the wide range of Internet based services now available on mobile devices we’re providing customers with generous clear data bundles that give customers freedom. This enables us to provide a better overall experience for the vast majority of customers and to better manage demand.”

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Unlimited UK Wi-Fi

What has Wi-Fi got to do with the mobile carrier? Wi-Fi is a function of the the phone. They make it sound like it's a feature THEY are offering.

O2 is the worst provider anyways, worst coverage out of all 5 providers and speed isn't that great, image compression and speed is limited on mobiles (~0.5-1Mbps) so people with their MBB get it faster (put an O2 mobile sim in a dongle and you'll get ~2.5Mbps).

On the old plan you could do ~2GB before they'd moan, another reason I'm off to Vodafone/3 when my contract expires.

otester said,
O2 is the worst provider anyways, worst coverage out of all 5 providers and speed isn't that great, image compression and speed is limited on mobiles (~0.5-1Mbps) so people with their MBB get it faster (put an O2 mobile sim in a dongle and you'll get ~2.5Mbps).

On the old plan you could do ~2GB before they'd moan, another reason I'm off to Vodafone/3 when my contract expires.

This seems to be the opposite of what's considered gospel by everyone I know. O2 is regarded as the network with the best coverage, Vodafone is second place and 3 are just awful.

Two things strike me here:

1) Getting cut off instead of speed restricted is a violation of the application of the word 'unlimited'

2) I've been using my iphone for video, mms, youtube et al constantly... I use it for push email and everything else it is supposed to be used for. My usage stats from 16/08/09 (uk) are 90Mb upload and 759 MB download according to the phone.

I'm questioning the accuracy of the phones counters at present

SoupDragon said,
I'm questioning the accuracy of the phones counters at present

Has it maybe been round the clock like an old rusty M reg Peugeot?

I understand why mobile carriers are doing this, and I understand why most people will actually be OK on these service plans. What frustrates me as a consumer is over time, as technology progresses, I expect to see the cost of mobile services go DOWN, not UP.

When the iPhone 3G launched I was able to get 600 minutes and "unlimited" data for £35/month on an 18 month contract. Granted it only had 500 text messages, but I don't text a great deal.

Two years (?) on and iPhone 4 is about to launch, it now costs £40 for the same contract but with just 500M of data transfer per month. Yes, it now includes "unlimited" texts, but that's the one thing that doesn't cost the operators a penny as it utilises their network protocols (AFAIK?!).

Every few months, technology always moves on. Whether it is CPU, RAM, HD space, GPU performance, you name it, it *generally* gets better/faster/bigger/more powerful - and cheaper - over time. Why do O2 think the are the exception?

It wouldn't be so bad if I thought O2's network was becoming more reliable and faster, but it just isn't. I sit here these days and watch the 3G signal drop all the time. It can sometimes take just as long to check my e-mail on 3G as it does on Edge. Sometimes I can't even get onto 3G anymore.

As a consumer I am not seeing my service improve. What cost £35 last year, should not cost £40 this year.

(And don't get me started on our non-existant Wifi services!)

I mostly use Wi-Fi, and if I am browsing outside on 3G its only to websites or to check emails.

I want to know how much the phone will be on these tariffs? My guess is that the pricing will mirror the 3GS.

People that are freaking out about this are forgetting something. I use about 150mb a month on my iPhone's data plan. The other 3+ gigs of data goes over wifi. It is not a hard change to make because the iPhone will automated transfer to wifi connections where available. While some may not have wifi 24/7, if you don't have it at home, you are way behind on times or you internet provider blows considering most of the major companies in the US give you a free wifi modem with your service. Even if you don't have one, spend the $40 on a wifi router and problem is still solved cheaper than buying more 3g/4g bandwidth.

Most people will notice only one difference in the new direction some cell phone carriers are starting to take. More money in their own pocket. For the other 3% that is over using the network, get over your self entitlement issue and make a few cheap and simple changes.

Does anyone know how much bandwidth is consumed for running push email, contact, calendars etc. all day long? I'm interested in knowing whether I'm likely to use up all my available bandwidth on this.

mattking said,
Does anyone know how much bandwidth is consumed for running push email, contact, calendars etc. all day long? I'm interested in knowing whether I'm likely to use up all my available bandwidth on this.

If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Usage. If not, google your phone and find the same page. Almost all phones these days track their usage of voice, data, and text.

mattking said,
Does anyone know how much bandwidth is consumed for running push email, contact, calendars etc. all day long? I'm interested in knowing whether I'm likely to use up all my available bandwidth on this.

How long's a piece of string really. The "heartbeat" connection to check for changes to your mail, calendars, etc will use a tiny amount of data that's hardly worth bothering with. The majority of the data use will depend on how often changes need to be replicated down to your phone, and how big those changes are. The size of incoming emails for instance.

Why do we still allow the Mobile Operators to SH** on us all the time. First there were clear 12 month contracts (With some small print)
Now the minimum is 18 month with enough small print to take you 18 months to read! and "NOTHING" for free when you actually work out the total costs.
Recuperating The capital expenditure for all the operators to get set up finished a long time ago, so why are they still charging us more and more each year!!
It does my head in!!!!!

mammix2 said,
Recuperating The capital expenditure for all the operators to get set up finished a long time ago, so why are they still charging us more and more each year!!
It does my head in!!!!!

So you think they just buy the network infrastructure up front, and then have to spend absolutely nothing on it afterwards? Get real mate.

Mobile phone technology has gone through several iterations since these companies first set up their networks. GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, etc. All these technologies would require massive upgrades to infrastructure. Then there's the continual spend on new cell towers, or bigger cell towers to handle more traffic, repairs and other upgrades. Not to mention the cost of purchasing the licence to use the 3G frequencies which was in the billions if I remember correctly.

Also, only one exclamation mark is required!

I have had this phone less than a month - I don't use much data at all in fairness - I have not watched any YouTube, I have downloaded a couple of apps and browsed a few websites. I am apparently at 700mb usage... I can't see how they can claim that the average user uses only 200mb per month - I think they are including the dumb phones as they called them in that equation.


Also 20p MMS ?? WHY THE HECK - MMS has been part of our networks in Europe for years - and contract customers normally have it included in the contract as 4 sms credits.... It's not like in the states where MMS is new and expensive and warrants such a high cost!


For this I shall be switching networks.

Matt Hardwick said,
I have had this phone less than a month - I don't use much data at all in fairness - I have not watched any YouTube, I have downloaded a couple of apps and browsed a few websites. I am apparently at 700mb usage... I can't see how they can claim that the average user uses only 200mb per month - I think they are including the dumb phones as they called them in that equation.


Also 20p MMS ?? WHY THE HECK - MMS has been part of our networks in Europe for years - and contract customers normally have it included in the contract as 4 sms credits.... It's not like in the states where MMS is new and expensive and warrants such a high cost!


For this I shall be switching networks.

If you read the articles from O2 that this is based on, it specificly says smart phone users, not "dumb phones". When they say 200mb per month average, they are in fact talking about smart phone users alone.

The same cycle seems to have happened with Broadband in the UK.

First there was metered usage.
Then it was 'unlimited' (with a limit) as the networks tried to draw people in to start gaming and streaming TV content.
Follow that with "tiered" limits where you pay for what you consume per GB
And finally we're back to unlimited again with products from Sky and VirginMedia offering what they claim to be 'truly unlimited'

I guess the phone networks are doing the same as they discover their networks developed primarily for voice can't handle the data usage.

Those data plans are awful on T-Mobile UK PAYG it's officially unlimited with a fair use policy of 50mb a day so that's over a GB and a half a month, to get that all I have to do is topup £10 a month.

I have a HTC hero with Orange UK. Their unlimited plan is limited to 500MB. Their excess charges are a pig as well. I managed to use 1Gb in a month and got charged nearly £20 extra for the privilege.

At least now that O2 are limiting their bundles everyone will stop advertising their bundles as unlimited when they are not

Septimus said,
**** you very much O2.

If they remove my unlimited data I am leaving them.

Just got off the phone with O2. Supposedly, as I have already done, order a micro sim from them. It can be for anything, say the iPad 3G. Buy a PayG iPhone 4, call them up and transfer your contract onto the iPad 3G sim. You then keep your tariff.

I have know idea why, but you can't transfer your contract onto the PayG sim that comes with the iPhone 4. I'm guessing the Sim has to be unregistered and monthly 'enabled'.... or something.

Call back tomorrow for more information.

Septimus said,
**** you very much O2.

If they remove my unlimited data I am leaving them.

All networks will be doing it in the UK, its the way the market is moving I'm afraid.

Dcrad said,

All networks will be doing it in the UK, its the way the market is moving I'm afraid.

Now 3 is getting the iPhone I would imagine they will offer at least 5GB. You won't be able to call anyone of course, but that is the trade off

I wish they'd stop advertising "Unlimited WiFi", not like they're going to limit the amount of WiFi you can use...

I hate this new plan, makes me shy away from getting the iPhone 4 - may as well get 3Gs...

James Brooks said,
I wish they'd stop advertising "Unlimited WiFi", not like they're going to limit the amount of WiFi you can use...

I hate this new plan, makes me shy away from getting the iPhone 4 - may as well get 3Gs...

It is unlimited though isn't it, you normally have to pay on a time used basis at hotspots, with this you dont, so its unlimited!

Dcrad said,

It is unlimited though isn't it, you normally have to pay on a time used basis at hotspots, with this you dont, so its unlimited!

The beauty of advertising.

Those are some brutal plans. Although I personally don't use more than 500MB. That price is quite bad.

Xero said,
Those are some brutal plans. Although I personally don't use more than 500MB. That price is quite bad.

That seems to be the point though. Easy way to free up network space.

Any word on what they plan to provide for £15per month simplicity packages? (currently claimed to be on unlimited)

Ha! When I called them to say I was considering switching to another provider, they told me they were the only network who offered 'truly unlimited' internet.

What are they going to use to desperately cling to their customers now?

"we're providing customers with generous clear data bundles that give customers freedom"

Err.. how is removing the unlimited (not that unlmited actually exists) blanket plan giving uses more freedom.. its just wa y for o2 to make more money... duh...

Ive no idea what I use, and shouldnt really have to care tbh... as such phones & providers are supporting the use of apps like spotify, and video streaming, it is not outrageious that people may unkowkingly exceed 500mb...

DrScouse said,
"we're providing customers with generous clear data bundles that give customers freedom"

Err.. how is removing the unlimited (not that unlmited actually exists) blanket plan giving uses more freedom.. its just wa y for o2 to make more money... duh...

Ive no idea what I use, and shouldnt really have to care tbh... as such phones & providers are supporting the use of apps like spotify, and video streaming, it is not outrageious that people may unkowkingly exceed 500mb...

Assuming there numbers are correct, 97% of their smart phone customers will now have the freedom to pay less. This is an attractive deal for people who knowingly use less than that and are on more expensive networks that don't give the options. Its a smart business move.

Mike Brown said,
In all fairness I'd struggle to use 500MB on a phone.

I just looked on my O2 previous bills - on average I use 120-150MB a month.

On the above tariffs, I would be eligible for 750MB - I should be fine.

Mike Brown said,
In all fairness I'd struggle to use 500MB on a phone.

I just looked on my O2 previous bills - on average I use 120-150MB a month.

On the above tariffs, I would be eligible for 750MB - I should be fine.

Yeah I'm on the £15 a month O2 tariff and apparently I get "unlimited" internet. The guy in the store refused to tell me the actual limit, but my friend got disabled when he went over 1GB. >_>

Duality said,
lol iPhone. I get 3Gb a month on a £30 p/m contract with my Android phone.

Regardless of your hardware, if you're on O2 and renewing your contact or moving to O2 this is likely to apple to ANY handset.

Neowin missed out the bit just above the table on O2's site when they cropped their screen shot, this is their new "Pay Monthly smartphone tariff table" and is likely to apply HTCs, Pres as well as Apples going forward

If anyone is on the iPhone Simplicity tariffs like me who currently gets 600mins/1200 texts, unlimited data for £20 on 30 day rolling contract. You're gonna be in for a shock. O2 are not supporting these tariffs with iPhone 4 and you will need to move over to a iPhone 4 tariff if you want the new phone.

I just called them and basically "the current simplicity tariffs "won't work" and you need to upgrade to a new iPhone 4 tariff". Pffft.

kraized said,
If anyone is on the iPhone Simplicity tariffs like me who currently gets 600mins/1200 texts, unlimited data for £20 on 30 day rolling contract. You're gonna be in for a shock. O2 are not supporting these tariffs with iPhone 4 and you will need to move over to a iPhone 4 tariff if you want the new phone.

I just called them and basically "the current simplicity tariffs "won't work" and you need to upgrade to a new iPhone 4 tariff". Pffft.


Hmm sounds like a rep on the phone that's clueless. The only thing you need is a micro-SIM.

Tom W said,

Hmm sounds like a rep on the phone that's clueless. The only thing you need is a micro-SIM.

O2 want you to move to the new iPhone 4 tariffs if you want the new phone. They will not let you stay on the Simplicity tariffs.

kraized said,

O2 want you to move to the new iPhone 4 tariffs if you want the new phone. They will not let you stay on the Simplicity tariffs.

Keep your current contract and just cut your sim down to size - I believe it works in iPads and will more than likely work in iPhone 4.

The rep was correct in saying that they won't give you a micro sim for your current contract - you have to have the same tariffs, just at £15 or so/month less.

kraized said,

O2 want you to move to the new iPhone 4 tariffs if you want the new phone. They will not let you stay on the Simplicity tariffs.


Yes they will, you can just buy the phone PAYG and ask them to switch your existing SIM to a micro-SIM. Simple.

Tom W said,

Yes they will, you can just buy the phone PAYG and ask them to switch your existing SIM to a micro-SIM. Simple.

Do we know the price of the phone on PAYG now? Wondering if it's worth selling my PAYG iPhone 3G to change...

Tom W said,

Yes they will, you can just buy the phone PAYG and ask them to switch your existing SIM to a micro-SIM. Simple.

According to my friend who works at an O2 store they've been told that they wont be switching normal sims for micro sims. Not sure how true that is, but he's been fairly reliable on info before.

bmaher said,

According to my friend who works at an O2 store they've been told that they wont be switching normal sims for micro sims. Not sure how true that is, but he's been fairly reliable on info before.


Oh well if they refuse just cut it down to size

bmaher said,

According to my friend who works at an O2 store they've been told that they wont be switching normal sims for micro sims. Not sure how true that is, but he's been fairly reliable on info before.

Not sure this is true. Information available on O2's release says (http://shop.o2.co.uk/new-iphone/tariffs.html#paymonth)

"If you're already on Pay & Go with O2 and buying the iPhone 4, you'll need to transfer your existing O2 number, balance and tariff onto the new micro sim. We'll tell you how to do this soon."

and for customers in contract upgrading they say (http://shop.o2.co.uk/new-iphone/howtoupgrade.html)

"If you don't want to upgrade to a new iPhone on a Pay Monthly contract, you can buy an iPhone 4 on Pay & Go. Remember you'll need to continue to pay for your existing Pay Monthly contract."

So in both cases you can keep your existing arrangement and purchase a PAYG handset, and O2 supply a microSIM

bmaher said,

According to my friend who works at an O2 store they've been told that they wont be switching normal sims for micro sims. Not sure how true that is, but he's been fairly reliable on info before.

You can order a micro sim from the o2 website - so don't think they will be refusing anything if they are already offering to "ship them in time for the launch"

Matt Hardwick said,

You can order a micro sim from the o2 website - so don't think they will be refusing anything if they are already offering to "ship them in time for the launch"

Now all we need to know is the PAYG price. If it works out cheaper to buy it up front I will, otherwise I might as well change to the new contract

If 97% of their smartphone customers aren't using this extra data allowances anyway, then does it really cost O2 more to keep their existing data allowances in place?

Kyang said,
If 97% of their smartphone customers aren't using this extra data allowances anyway, then does it really cost O2 more to keep their existing data allowances in place?

Exactly, that was my first thought. If it's not a problem why change it, surely advertising unlimited internet access is a plus in the marketing front.

Ive looked at my send and recieve on my iPhone 3G, and it states 50MB sent 80MB download, so i would assume that ive used 130MB of my usage. Im not sure when the counting started, if it started from my last bill date.

However im really concerned and will probably be checking my usage for the first couple of months or looking at other providers.

REM2000 said,

Exactly, that was my first thought. If it's not a problem why change it, surely advertising unlimited internet access is a plus in the marketing front.

Ive looked at my send and recieve on my iPhone 3G, and it states 50MB sent 80MB download, so i would assume that ive used 130MB of my usage. Im not sure when the counting started, if it started from my last bill date.

However im really concerned and will probably be checking my usage for the first couple of months or looking at other providers.

Check the bottom of that view and it will say when the last refresh was for the data.

Kyang said,
If 97% of their smartphone customers aren't using this extra data allowances anyway, then does it really cost O2 more to keep their existing data allowances in place?

Because the remaining 3% are using a disproportionate amount of data. This can affect the majority of people who don't use so much data. The answer was in the last sentence:

"This enables us to provide a better overall experience for the vast majority of customers and to better manage demand."

Well, I never seem to go above 250Mb/month with my iPhone so even the cheapest plan will provide more than enough for me. And, to be honest, "fair use" policies probably limited data to around this much per month anyway - at least we now have a hard number to compare against.

Still, I'm sure many people will complain very loudly. Before you do - check how much bandwidth you actually use!

It's not about how much bandwidth you use today. It's about how we'll all be using these phones tomorrow. AT&T wants to meter usage forever.

But customers just don't want to have to worry about how they use their phones, period. This is regressive.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile recently introduced completely unlimited plans for everyone.

excalpius said,
It's not about how much bandwidth you use today. It's about how we'll all be using these phones tomorrow. AT&T wants to meter usage forever.

But customers just don't want to have to worry about how they use their phones, period. This is regressive.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile recently introduced completely unlimited plans for everyone.

+1, this is totally regressive and just the opposite of what customer's want... Sprint has been completely unlimited for years.

excalpius said,
It's not about how much bandwidth you use today. It's about how we'll all be using these phones tomorrow. AT&T wants to meter usage forever.

But customers just don't want to have to worry about how they use their phones, period. This is regressive.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile recently introduced completely unlimited plans for everyone.

I do agree with your regressive statement. Hopefully consumer's choice will be with the providers that offer "unlimited" everything and these regressive providers will knock this kind of stuff off.

The only upsides I'm seeing in this is I won't need to persistantly e-mail O2 customer care to get unlimited texts added to my bundle as it's included now and as such will save me money on my contract each month.

It really is though. Smartphone growth is really taking off at a rate faster than providers can keep up and maintain "unlimited" data plans.

Couple that with people tethering their phones (either through hacks or by paying for it) and many will be using cell phone service as their primary internet connection as well. I'm tempted to switch to this model, but I sure do like my 16mbps cable modem connection fix.