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Cellphones Communications United Kingdom Wireless Networking

O2 Scraps Unlimited Data Usage For Smartphones 272

Jagjr writes with news that O2, a major UK wireless provider, appears to be following in AT&T's footsteps by scrapping its unlimited data plan for smartphone customers. New customers, or ones who upgrade, will be capped at either 500MB or 1GB per month. Reader Barence adds this excerpt from PC Pro: In a blog post defending the new policy, O2's CEO claimed 0.1% of the network's users were consuming almost a third of the traffic, while the average O2 user consumes only 200MB of data. By PC Pro's calculations, that means those 26,000 heavy users are consuming an average of 65GB per month over a 3G connection. O2 had 26 million customer accounts at the start of 2010, so it has 26,000 heavy data users. 26 million x 200MB = 5,200,000,000 MB total data usage across the network per month. 5,200,000,000MB ÷ 3 = 1,733,333,333MB per month used by the 26,000 heavy data users. That means the average heavy data user consumes a staggering 66,666MB (so around 65GB) per month."
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O2 Scraps Unlimited Data Usage For Smartphones

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  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:00PM (#32537558)

    I'm sorry, I'm just too used to corporations lying and making shit up. Have a third party with no conflict of interest audit their numbers and then we can talk. Until then I'll just assume this is another "fuck the customer" move by a major corporation.

  • by ttlgDaveh ( 798546 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:00PM (#32537576) Homepage
    While I'm not a fan of taking away things, in my mind having a fixed limit is better than having an 'Unlimited' plan, but having an unknown 'fair usage policy', for which there is no official policy.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:00PM (#32537590)

    5gb is reasonable.

    At 500mb, there is no point in risking using the service.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:03PM (#32537628) Journal

    Who cares if you trust their numbers? They don't need to justify the breakdown to you or me or anyone. They only need to explain their pricing structure, then you and I can decide if we want the service.

  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:10PM (#32537750)

    They can start by not calling 3gb, 1gb, 500mb (or even less in some cases) `unlimited`. It's not unlimited if there's a limit. And they should also stop calling them `fair use policies` - they should call them `download limitation policies` or something, given that charging you for an unlimited policy, then charging you again if you download too much can hardly be described as fair.

  • yea you decide. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:12PM (#32537784) Homepage Journal
    ironically, all the major monopolies which control the market are going that way, so your decision means squat. there is no 'competition'. the empty premise of the 'free' market.
  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:14PM (#32537818)

    " 0.1% of the network's users were consuming almost a third of the traffic" ... "the average heavy data user consumes a staggering 66,666MB (so around 65GB) per month."

    If this were truly the case, they could cap things at 5G at no extra cost and get back 90% of that 1/3, while only effecting a little more than .1% of their customers. Instead, they are setting the cap lower such that they get back maybe another 5% of that 1/3 (that's a gain of less than 2%) and screwing people only one or two SD from the mean. That's going to be a lot of people.

    Every situation a telco sees is a new opportunity to try to screw their customers or a government out of more money. Every situation, without exception.

    One might argue that every business should try to make as much money as possible. But businesses who screw their customers get dumped in favor of other, more customer friendly businesses fast, and therefor most successful companies try to take care of their customers.

    This dynamic is completely absent in the big telcos. It's an entire industry of terrible companies run by lying bastards.

    (Small telcos try harder, and attempt to take care of their customers, but small telcos don't have cell networks or access to most people's last mile.)

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:14PM (#32537832)

    Because some Slashdot geek types want everything for free. They get mad at companies who advertise unlimited service, but who then yell at heavy users. They say "They should just state what the cap is!". They then get mad at companies who have caps on their service, claiming that the caps are unfair.

    More or less they want to be able to use tons of bandwidth, and not have to pay for it. When people have complained about the "unreasonably low" cap of 250GB on cable modems I've suggested business class cable. That's why I do. No restrictions, I get static IPs, etc. Costs more, but it is worth it and I have as much bandwidth as I like. No, too expensive they say.

    They just want to complain.

  • by bobcat7677 ( 561727 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:15PM (#32537842) Homepage
    So that would mean an AVERAGE of roughly 200Kb/sec non-stop all month long? Given this is a 3G connection we are talking about, that's either not possible or means they are pretty much saturating their connections all the time. Does it seem likely that there are 26,000 users who bought phones solely to dedicate to tethering and bittorrent (I can't think of any other application that would produce those results). Or maybe 26,000 people with malware infected phones sending spam all day long? Or maybe the carrier's stats are just shit? Or maybe "3G" means something different in the UK (where I'm at it means an average of 100-200Kb/sec depending on where you happen to be standing at the time). Feel free to correct any of my assumptions or my math if necessary:)
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:21PM (#32537954) Journal

    I just don't get it.

    What percentage of their customers are paying for an unlimitted plan. And they say the average user only uses 200MB? So you've effectively managed to overcharge MORE of your users!

    Lets see, 65G a month is 1/3rd of the traffic. So 2/3rds (or 130g) are used by all your other customers, averaging to around 200MB (or 0.2G) a month. So, 26 Million users means 26 thousand are using the unlimitted plan to its potential (65G) and the other 25974000 users are... What? Lets say a conservative 1% are paying for an unlimitted plan but not using it. Thats 259740 users you are overcharging.

    By Golly, why'd you have to go and change the plan (thus voiding any contracts) when you are sitting on a gold mine.

  • by Tuzanor ( 125152 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:23PM (#32537974) Homepage
    If carriers can't charge more to people who use more, how are they supposed to get the revenue to expand the network? If a regulator caps prices, you get shortages like anything else.
  • Re:yea you decide. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:25PM (#32538026) Journal

    The market is not free because the government won't allow it to be free. The government hands-out exclusive monopolies to ISPs. That needs to stop.

  • by nolife ( 233813 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:25PM (#32538034) Homepage Journal

    When the real caps are listed, you are still free to complain but at least you can comparison shop. If company A has an unlimited plan for 5GB/month, and company B has an unlimited plan with 10GB/month and both are CLEARLY stated and made well known while you are browsing the offerings; You the consumer can compare service and price and take the best one. With "unlimited" being undefined, hidden, tucked away in some web portal under account options--> service -> data -> limits -> your limit -> "amount used" or the last page of your agreement in a size 3 gray font, you can not compare service. These companies go out of their way to call the service unlimited and also go equally out of there way to hide the fact that is it not unlimited.

    It is NOT everyone wanting something for nothing, it is about having all of the factors in front of you to choose the lesser of the evils.

  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:27PM (#32538072)

    Time is pretty much the only thing in life which has no possibility of being unlimited.

  • by Montezumaa ( 1674080 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:27PM (#32538080)

    So, your position is that customers are "[ruining] it for everybody" because said customers are actually using what they are paying for? Do you realize how utterly stupid your position is? If someone purchases a home and uses every room, instead of only a percentage of room that the realtor believes is reasonable, then that customer is trying to "[ruin] it for everybody"?

    The fact of the matter is that these companies advertised their product as "unlimited", then committed a violation of the law by falsely advertising to customer what "unlimited" means. The fact of the matter is that these companies are bringing in record profits, but refuse to spend some of those profits to build a network to support the product they are selling. These corporations believe they can do whatever they wish and then impose restrictions, after a contract is signed, because they believe that most customers do not have the financial means to fight for their rights.

    I say fuck these corporations and fuck the pieces of shit that play us(the customers). I will use the service I pay for, to the fullest extent possible. If they(the corporations) do not like it, then I will see them in court.

  • Thats about 1 iTunes episode of lost, per day.

    Suddenly it's not so much, is it?

    This is all about getting the consumers in position to be dinged even more when there usage naturally climbs as the adapt to new ways to use their devices,. It is not a coincidence this is happening just as device designed to stream content from 3G/4G networks. Such as the iPad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:41PM (#32538356)

    You live in a really simple world. Tell me, did they let you sit at the front of the short bus, or in back with the exhaust fumes?

    When a corporation makes major changes, they have to tell my why it's reasonably in order to keep customers.n You also run into problems if you are changing how existing users will use the service. Plus about 2 dozen other factors.

    One could assume that on 'the short bus', the front and the back would be close enough that there would be no escape from the fumes.

    Also, the rest of your post is a train wreck. I appreciate the irony though.

  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:45PM (#32538434) Journal

    Although some people definitely do have unreasonable demands, I think you're giving too much credit to the companies. I know they have the right to do whatever they like, but if I think they're being price-gouging asshats then I'm still going to complain about their service.

    If you're advertising unlimited, give me unlimited or stop fucking lying in your adverts. Note that I'm well aware that a true unlimited service would be prohibitively expensive, and that overselling is what makes pricing reasonable (Dreamhost's blog entry [] is pretty good on the subject), so I'm fine with caps.

    A 250GB monthly cap for a home internet connection sounds perfectly reasonable. A 1GB cap for a low priced mobile service sounds fine. 10-15GB or so for a higher tier mobile package is sensible, I'd say. All of these should have low priced per-GB fees above the cap.

    For now it seems that people won't/can't vote with their wallets on the issue, so I can't blame the companies for screwing us over in search of more profit (that's what companies are built to do). What I can do, however, is post rants like this in the hope of encouraging more people to switch to a better ISP if there's one available, even at a slightly higher cost.

  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:48PM (#32538504)

    Actually, IMO, most of the caps ARE carefully calculated to be unfair. Look at the plans for data and txt usage. They almost ALWAYS break down to these options:
    1. cheap plan with a limit lower than what 95% of people need, with insane overage charges
    2. expensive plan with a limit way higher than what 95% of people need, with insane overage charges
    3. "unlimited" plan for a few $ more than #2

    Basically #1 doesn't work for anyone, so they're forced to spend way more than they need on #2, because there are no other options. (and most probably just go with #3, because it's only a few $ more, and they don't have to worry about the insane scary per txt/MB charges)

  • Re:yea you decide. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:50PM (#32538534) Homepage Journal
    no, its capitalism. capitalism requires a state of total anarchy to be viable, like in early days of usa, or, early days of indian colonization by british, or, in the early days of wild west.

    only then there can be enough opportunities and lack of control of market by incumbent competitors that competition, price wars, choice can happen.

    when frontiers are not found, then incumbents, with their greater power, consolidate the market and create a hierarchy. just like how 3-4 companies dominate every field of life in usa now. its inevitable, its the result of societal dynamics, it wont change by itself.
  • by sxeraverx ( 962068 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:06PM (#32538808)

    Except what it ends up being is not 10 cents per gigabyte, but 10, or even 100 dollars.

    People are (or at least I am) fed up with the exorbitant prices for what should by now be basic services ($99 a month for unlimited voice? it doesn't cost you nearly that much to carry it; not to mention the cost of text messages), arbitrary limitations (no tethering allowed? but i can visit the exact same webpage on my phone, and it'll cost you more bandwidth because I don't have the ability to block ads; only 2Gb/mo? why?) and arbitrary extra fees ($20/mo to enable tethering? "Carrier Cost Recovery Fee"? WTF? So, you're charging us for your costs, and then your charging for your costs again, on top of that?).


  • spin it back (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:09PM (#32538842) Homepage Journal

    O2's CEO claimed 0.1% of the network's users were consuming almost a third of the traffic

    Or, to put it another way, 99.9% of O2's users are staying well within reasonable usage of the network.

    Fun little spin he's putting on it there.

  • Spectrum is scarce (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:17PM (#32538984) Homepage Journal

    That's not the government's fault, it's that the barriers to entry are extremely high.

    You're right that the entry barriers aren't the government's fault. They're the fault of physics itself: spectrum is scarce.

  • by longacre ( 1090157 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:28PM (#32539194) Homepage
    That is a different issue, and it could be argued that it is an artificial one. Even if there were unlimited spectrum, it still costs a ton of money to wire the continent for service.
  • Re:yea you decide. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:34PM (#32539332)

    This is the UK we're discussing (or at least, it's mentioned in the article, who knows what we're discussing...). The government has made at least some effort to introduce competition in both the ISP, landline and mobile phone markets. In all cases the companies that own the infrastructure are required to lease space/capacity/whatever to competitors, including competitors that don't have any infrastructure themselves. [] for example.

  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:44PM (#32542732)

    Maybe the FCC should handle the towers then (contract out the construction and maintenance, etc. to various subcontractors as needed), and charge for the usage of those towers. Or, the FCC should regulate the telecos in the same manner that other utility companies are regulated.

    I mean, I'm paying all this tax money, I want to see it put to good use, not just to build bridges to nowhere.

    As for all the anti-big government people, I'm not a fan of large governments either. But as there's a scarcity on this resource, the government is going to regulate anyway, so why not regulate properly.

  • by tenton ( 181778 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:31PM (#32544792)

    $20/mo to enable tethering?

    People who tether transfer more data per month than people who do not.

    AT&T is charging $20 for tethering and implementing bandwidth caps. So if you gulp down your bandwidth limit with your phone, it costs X. If you gulp down the same bandwidth with your computer, it's X+$20. There's a cap in place, so it takes the "uses more bandwidth" argument out of play (since the tethering plan doesn't increase your cap). There's no reason for it, it's the same bandwidth.

  • by MikeK7 ( 1826472 ) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:22AM (#32547166)

    I want to stream MythTV to my smartphone

    While you're streaming TV to your phone for little reason, I have to put up with web pages taking longer to load.

    I'm willing to pay for that; why aren't they willing to offer the bandwidth to do it?

    The required bandwidth is not available. You're basically asking to have half of the tower all to yourself. Assuming they want a 5 year return, you would be expected to pay off half a tower over that period of time. If you're happy paying $1000 per month for a service with just a couple of mbits then good for you. When other users leave the network due to the low speeds that you have caused, they will bill you for more and more.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.