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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 egork ( 449605 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#32537598) Homepage Journal

    If users can get 65 GB in a month. But the überusage seems to be the hidden marketing cost of advertising an unlimited plan.

  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:12PM (#32537790)

    For a fair price, 500mb can be fine - especially if you have access to genuinely unlimited, or cheaper, broadband at home via wifi. But even then I believe that companies should make it very clear to you, via SMS/Email/phone calls etc if you're approaching, or exceeding, your limits, especially if you have to pay for it.

    For example, Virgin Mobile in the UK charge £2 per meg over their `unlimited` 1gb plan, which is laughable.

  • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:14PM (#32537828) Journal

    I used to be an O2 customer until about 8 months ago when they silently changed my (sim only) contract that I paid an extra £7.50 per month to get unlimited data. This was on top of the £15 pound I paid for calls and text messages. They silently amended the "fair use" policy from 4Gb per month to 500Mb. They did not reduce the £7.50. I immediately jumped to a different company and told them why after having been a customer for about 5 years or so.

    There network in the UK has been hopelessly overloaded since they got the exclusive deal on the iPhone. In central London you would be unable to get a line quite regularly. They are desperately trying to keep their network alive without spending any money since they know most people will now be leaving them since the iPhone is available from other networks.

  • by SUB7IME ( 604466 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:19PM (#32537902)

    Well, yeah, my tax dollars subsidized their infrastructure, so I would like to regulate their pricing.

  • by ( 1563557 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:21PM (#32537940)

    This is basically the solution Verizon Wireless here in the US has come to

    Hrm. I have a subsidized HP Mini 1000 with a Verizon Wireless 3G card built in. For 5GB/mo I pay $59/mo + tax.

    I also have a Palm Pre Plus for my cell phone with Verizon Wireless on a family plan (pre + pixi). When I received the bill for the last billing period, I was very pleasantly surprised to see a big notice that read something like this:

    "Dear Valued Customer, because you have been such an excellent customer for the last 6 years, we've decided to add 5GB/mo to each of your Palm phones; on the house. Enjoy!"

    Since then, I've been trying to figure out how to channel bond the 3g in the netbook with the WiFi Hotspot in the Pre ;)

  • by ( 1563557 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:49PM (#32538512)

    Is this meant to be a troll (your karma speaks poorly of you)? Verizon data plans for handsets specifically include unlimited data usage. What would they be adding 5GB/mo to exactly? Did the phone(s) have pay-per-mb data on them previously?

    No, sorry, not meant as a troll at all, adding to your praise of Verizon (if I read you correctly :)

    You are correct that the Palm smartphones have the unlimited data plans included. However, the WiFi Hotspot previously added charges above and beyond the included unlimited plan. When you connected a device to the hotspot it gave you a warning, and prompted the user to purchase the Hotspot plan. What Verizon did for me was give me 5GB/mo with the WiFi Hotspot app for free!

    If this was informative; help a fellow /.'er down on his karma, and mod me up please! :)

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:50PM (#32538528) Homepage Journal

    What they're not telling you is that the people pulling such huge traffic rates are doing so because they're using the phone instead of a computer, and they have no Wi-Fi access. 200 megabytes is *nothing* if you're using cellular data exclusively. That's about an hour and a half of YouTube-quality video. Want to watch a TV show or two while you're on vacation? You can rack up gigabytes of usage pretty quickly.

    The thing is, if you use your phone as a media viewing platform, you're going to run up large amounts of bandwidth. For people who are used to doing that, it only takes a one week vacation somewhere without Wi-Fi to put you into that top 0.1%. Or when your Wi-Fi connection goes down and you don't notice that it's pulling data over 3G. And that's what makes this so insidious. You don't need to break the rules and tether, use BitTorrent, or violate the terms of service in any way to run afoul of a bandwidth limit. There's plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to consume that much bandwidth, and it isn't very hard to do in a month if you aren't paying attention.

  • by Binestar ( 28861 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:14PM (#32538936) Homepage

    Here is what I consider the only fair ways to handle tiered pricing:

    #1: You hit your cap and no more service for the month
    #2: Lets say there are 5 tiers of caps: $5 for 100MB, $10 for 500MB, $25 for 2GB, $50 for 5GB and $100 for 15GB. If I use 17GB I would expect to pay $100 for 15GB and an additional $25 for 2GB for a total bill of $125. One month I go on vacation and don't use it much at all, I pay $5 for the 100MB. Another month I stream movies constantly, I pay $350 for 50GB of traffic.

    IMO: There is no reason to have to choose a cap. Have a sliding scale and you're billed based on usage. None of this being on a smaller plan and being dinged very heavily for going over. Just up the plan to the next and be billed if that is your option, or have service stopped if you don't want to add cost to your plan.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:31PM (#32539260)

    What if I want to use tons of bandwidth and pay for it? I want to stream MythTV to my smartphone; I want to keep my phone continually synchronized with my fileserver at home (including any pictures or videos I take), even if I'm in another state; I want to be able to listen to any of the hundreds of gigabytes of music available to me, be they on YouTube, the Internet, or my fileserver at home no matter where I am; I want to connect a Bluetooth webcam to my phone and stream everything that happens to me to a remote server.

    I'm willing to pay for that; why aren't they willing to offer the bandwidth to do it? It'll be expensive, but there's bound to be some people for whom price doesn't matter, and it's not like a real unlimited plan is going to take up extra space on their shelves. Why not offer a real unlimited plan, at its actual price?

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker