back to article O2 to step back from unlimited mobile data deals

O2 is to stop bundling 'unlimited' data access with the smartphones it sells. Buy a smartphone on an O2 contract today and you'll get 'unlimited' data - well, unlimited up to the cut-off point mandated by O2' 'fair use' policy. However, from 24 June - the day O2 begins selling the iPhone 4, we note - data will be capped at …


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  1. Stu Wilson
    Jobs Halo

    ...only one thing to say

    ... the bastards

    1. Was Steve

      Transparency is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      At least they're being transparent. I can't actually find out what my unlimited data limit is on Virgin

      1. Anonymous Coward

        that's a good thing

        "At least they're being transparent. I can't actually find out what my unlimited data limit is on Virgin"

        I assume, as you are commenting here, that you have access to google and fingers with which to type....I typed "virgin mobile unlimited data fair use" into google...First result (virgin site) told me it was 3GB...not hard is it now?

        When the hell will people learn that search engines are not just for add delivery...FFS

      2. Danny 14 Silver badge

        thats odd

        my android contract on virgin clearly says 1gb. Even on the online bill it has 1gb. The 3G dongle at work says 3gb on its contract.

      3. Maxie34

        Unlimited Data.... Well thats what you think!

        All UK Mobile networks offer unlimited data bundles.... Well majority of them their version of unlimited is a hidden 1GB Cap. O2 have decided to be bold and come out and say the Cap is 1GB as 24 June 2010.... which all other networks currently have but advertise it as *Fair Usage policy Applies.

  2. Ian North


    I don't see this as a huge problem personally. I've had my iPhone since January. I use the cellular network quite a bit (not for video or VOIP though) and so far I've used less than 400MB all in all. Those caps could be a lot worse

  3. Paul Gannon


    I'm on an O2 unlimited data tariff on my iPhone 3GS. If I was to 'upgrade' my phone to a iPhone 4 I would have to start worrying about what I doing and watching how much data I'd be using? Thanks O2, I won't be upgrading just yet. Hmmm? Three are getting iPhone 4 too - maybe I'll swap to them once my contract is up?

    O2 - limit customer experience - or charge them through the nose for it :(

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running Scared

    "FaceTime" - or video conferencing - is what must be scaring them. If Apple make it easy to use, and it's over a "network" rather than a "call", then this could gobble up lots of data. I thought I read (can't find it) that FaceTime only worked over WiFi ?

    Bugger. And I was thinking of upgrading my contract to an iPhone 4! I had thought of buying one on PAYG and sticking my existing SIM in it, but it won't fit :(

    1. jai

      wifi only at the moment

      yes, it's wifi only at the moment because Apple need to chat with the network operators first. i suspect they've so far flat out refused to allow video calls on their networks because of their unlimited data plans. once they've phased them out, then we'll be able to do video calls over the phone's data connection and the operators get to charge us a fortune for the data is uses up

    2. RichyS
      Thumb Up


      Some judicious cutting and chopping with a sharp pair of scissors and a decent knife will rapidly convert your normal (mini) SIM into an iPhone 4/iPad friendly Micro SIM.

      If you need to go back, you can buy Micro- t0 Mini-SIM adapters from eBay and elsewhere on t'Internets for a few quid.

  5. BeefStirFry


    They giving unlimited text, but charging for MMS.

    And I'm still not sure about the statement they say "Unlimited data on all smartphone tariffs is a promotion until 1 October 2010."

    Is that only the tariffs they listed on the page, or really ALL tariffs?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Well O2 just lost my business

    I am buying another iPhone (V4) to go with the 3 we already have in the family. No way I want to be hit with a monthly cap on data. The stupidity of 'plans' is that they increase things that you don't need or use, like texts and voice calls, as they increase the thing you do want.

    All our phones are on O2 at the moment (6 of us in the family) but looks like all will be changed to another carrier as soon as renewal time comes up.

    1. Dave S 1

      re: Well O2 just lost my business

      Good luck in finding a different carrier with unlimited data.

      It sucks but the race to the bottom of the offerings pile is at full speed.

      1. Simon Says
        Thumb Up

        giffgaff still have unlimited data

        giffgaff still have unlimited data on their goodybags (PAYG monthly bundles), and they don't even have a FUP - they just stipulate that it is for handset use only (i.e. non-tethering). They only just introduced these goodybags so I'm sure they must have sorted out a fairly long term wholesale agreement with O2 (their carrier) for data. Their free data promotion (for non-goodybag users) ends at the end of June, but that's been on the cards for months anyway - and was originally planned to finish at the end of May but got extended for an extra month as they were waiting on O2 to get some mechanisms in place for their planned charging structure for PAYG data. The goodybag unlimited data is entirely separate from that promotion and is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

        Worth checking them out at - I've been with them since January and very pleased so far. I'm currently on their £10 goodybag which gets me 100 mins, unlimited texts and unlimited data each month - not to mention the £220 payback I'm getting this month for the last 6 months of forum participation and friend recommendation signups. They also have £15 (with 300 mins) and £35 (with unlimited minutes) goodybags available, or pure PAYG if you prefer - but that's not very attractive for smartphone data users. They are apparently also looking at getting into mobile broadband too, so might well be worth looking at for that as and when that comes along.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      they all have data caps....

      ...they just don't tell you. Instead they have what's known as a "fair use policy", which lays out the cap in the small print. For example, I have an "unlimited" data plan with Vodafone. However, the actual limit hidden the FUP is 500MB. The operators are dirty, weasly liars who are only able to act with such impunity w/r to consumer law due to the typically corrupt blind-eye-turning of Ofcom. O2 should be commended for making this ballsy move back toward transparency in this regard. I only wish it had been done for honorable reasons, rather than out of desperation caused by O2's crazed pursuit of exclusivity deals without the corresponding investment in infrastructure to serve all the new customers.

    3. Geoff Campbell

      No Fail

      O2 have just achieved mobile operator nirvana. All the whining dullards who expect gigabytes of data usage for pennies a month have hitched up their skirts and run off to other operators, leaving us loyal, long-standing customers to enjoy paying a reasonable price for a reasonable data usage on a no doubt suddenly much more responsive network. Thanks!


  7. Anonymous Coward


    O2 are getting expensive... I have just left! they couldn't get anywhere near the deals from any other operator, and now they are cutting back further?!

    I suspect they have a thorn in thier side. and it is hurting. The consequence of a pair of blingy handcuffs no doubt.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Roaming caps

      Now that caps are being enforced on what mobile operators cn charge for overseas use, they have just switched their cash-cow to be another service as a consequence.

  8. Chris Holt
    Thumb Down


    One would assume then that they have no problem with tethering after that, given you have the same limit...? Though the chances ofthat happening are the same as my bacon sandwich lifting off and flying home

    1. Annihilator Silver badge


      Completely agree, both with the sentiment and the chances. Previously I could understand the tethering charge as there was a natural limit to how much you could "eat" on an iPhone. Now though, you're paying (through the nose) specifically for a finite amount of data. To tell you how you can eat that is just ridiculous.

      O2: We're better, connected (to the mains with a nail in place of the fuse)

      1. Stu Wilson

        fully agree

        ... but hell, if Always Tits-up & Tripe can do it, I'm sure O2 are thinking they can get away with it too.

        mines the one with the iPad sized pocket

  9. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Which is really a way of saying...

    "That we've spunked all that money on advertising lies and sponsorship rather then investing it in our network infrastructure... which is shit BTW."

  10. gpb_1

    Reconsidering upgrade

    Well this changes things. Prob not going to upgrade now but stick with my current unlimited package

  11. James Barber
    Thumb Down

    data rip off

    Not happy about this, I use my iphone data quite a lot, although I don't know the true extent of my volume of usage, but it is nice to know I have an unlimited plan.

    Now I have to consider curbing my iphone usage in case I go over, which I fin disappointing.

    Perhaps if they had a better value bolt on I might take it.

    1. Matt.Smart

      Re: data rip off

      Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Network Data

      I thought I used mine a lot, too - turns out I've only used 1Gb in 12 months; the rest has been by wifi.

      Don't get me wrong, though - this is still a little annoying. But o2's terms seem to suggest that existing customers on unlimited tariffs won't lose the unlimited data (subject to FUP) in one section, and then simultaneously suggest it's only a promo lasting until October in another... hmm.

  12. Antony Smith


    our service levels are going backwards.

  13. Andrew Katz

    Well from O2's perspective it beats investing in some INFRASTRUCTURE

    Try using an iPhone somewhere, like the Isle of Man, which actually has a 3G infrastructure that works, and you'll find it an order of magnitude more useful.

    Frankly, O2 should be banned from selling any more 3G handsets until it upgrades it to something with slightly more data capacity than someone yelling "one one nought one nought nought" through a piece of string with a tin can at each end.

    Ofcom, as usual, are supine and useless.

    1. The Other Steve

      Powered by fairies ?

      And where are they going to get money to invest in infrastructure to fling data about if the data flinging isn't generating revenue ? Try selling that to YOUR bank manager.

  14. Tom 38 Silver badge


    I decided not to jump on the new n shiney bandwagon, and just jumped on the best value O2 iphone contract when my original iphone 3g contract came up in February, and that still includes unlimited data.

    Since thats a 12 month contract, I wonder what they will be doing with my contract. I almost certainly use in excess of 1GB in certain months, what with sky sports and spotify streaming over 3G.

    I wonder how much data a days worth of cricket streamed over 3G takes..

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      "I wonder how much data a days worth of cricket streamed over 3G takes.."

      What you need is the likes of Boycott and Tavaré at the crease. With compression only sending the frame updates you could get through an entire day using no bandwidth at all.

  15. Shinobi87
    Thumb Down

    I'm sorry

    are we going back in time? I thought we were meant to be moving away from stupid figures like this............ infact If i recall O2 had the best "fair useage" until now I see

  16. hahnchen

    At least they're up front

    Other networks, such as 3, sell their plans as unlimited, but in the small print, their data limit is a paltry 500Mb.

    3 dropped their limit from 1Gb to 500Mb and still sell it as unlimited. How is this legal?

    1. archengel46

      You're on the wrong...

      Add On.

      Unlimited Data

      Fair Use Limit: 1 GB each month

      X-Series - 1 GB should be more than enough to allow you to surf websites, use ISP email and download podcasts

      X-Series Silver & Gold - 1 GB should be more than enough to allow you to surf websites, use Mobile Mail and download podcasts

      We will let you know by text message once you have reached the fair use limit and ask you to cease using the included data services for the remainder of the month. If you continue to use the services we may suspend your data usage until the next month. This will not impact your access to other X-Series services.

  17. Jessica Werkz

    I can live with that cap

    Provided they get their 3G coverage in sync with their coverage maps (fat chance).

  18. Martin Lyne

    Yeah right

    I just got cutoff from my unlimited web bolt on, that after buying my new package. was told was not included free (as their contract update app stated) so I pay an extra £7.50 for net that wont get reactivated until the end of this month. While I wait for O2 broadband to be installed. Oh I love how they turn evil after they lock me in.

    Customer for ~7-8 years

    Also, I couldn't find their "fair usage" policy on the website. Won't be able to either as I have no net anywhere but work. Good times..

  19. Code Monkey

    Just in time

    I got my HTC Desire and "unlimited" data plan last week. Just in time*

    * Just in time for O2 - if they'd denied me I'd have gone to Orange**

    ** I'd have swallowed their foolish animal tariff names for "unlimited" data

  20. Annihilator Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Full details for the full details.

    I was going to buy on the day on the assumption I would carry on my existing tariff. But now I'll wait to see what the other operators do. A potential "TTFN" to O2 from me I reckon...

  21. Mark Thomas 3
    Thumb Down

    Well thats just great.

    How sucky.

  22. David Gosnell

    Might even keep me with O2, you never know

    Having seen O2's data service quality drop through the floor at the same rate as the rise of the iPhone, putting a cap on the latter's usage would be no bad thing.

  23. The Original Ash

    24 month contract?

    Go fuck yourselves.

    Buy the handset on a 6th month interest free credit card and put a PAYG sim in it. No lock in, phone you want regardless of price. You need a credit check to get the contract anyway, may as well save yourself the trouble and buy the phone, then cut up the card and pay the credit company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've used ~4Gb in total on my 3GS that's about a year old (a little under 350Mb/month), so the caps aren't that big a concern.

      But I didn't really want to be stuck on an 18 month tariff in the first place, so I'm not switching to 24 months.

      Mind you, as I have another 6 months to run on my contract anyhoo, I may as well wait and see what the 2011 iPhone brings to the party before I switch.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody good idea

    They can't go on milking voice and sms customers to subsidize VOIPing freetards forever - they should be acting as a dumb pipe and charging you for the capacity you use. Then I can make a sensible choice to use their voice/sms facilities or VOIP/IM depending on what gets the job done best. Plus if the iPhone people stop battering the network for no good reason I might actually be able to run VOIP with some degree of success.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      You have it backwards...

      "Plus if the iPhone people stop battering the network for no good reason I might actually be able to run VOIP with some degree of success."

      The problem isn't the iPhone owners using the fucking service they've PAID for—it's O2 who've been calling it "unlimited", remember?—but O2's crap infrastructure.

      Thank Codd I live in Italy now. Which won't even get the iPhone until next month, and where there's no such thing as a "locked" mobile phone. (Of course, the iTunes Store here is also firmly stuck in 2006 as well, but you can't have everything. Or, if you're after a TV programme, anything.)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone?

    Actually tried using data over O2...? I mean seriously, 400mb - thats gonna take at least the next 25years to download...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. stoops
      Thumb Down

      Yes I've tried using data over O2!

      Streamed 40 minutes of video from my home PC over the AirVideo app one day last month and that used up 114MB of data (in 40 minutes). You could quite easily hit the limits that way.

  26. fifi

    No upgrade for me then

    I was almost ready to upgrade to an iPhone4. Guess I'll leave it for a while now.

  27. Snetty

    Hmm, Actually

    checked my usage over the past 2 years.. somehow it's only 600m received and less than that sent, so I'm not quite as outraged as I was.

    Still moving to Vodafone if I can get a better deal though.

  28. ukmountie

    High prices for poor service.

    I had an 18 month contract for my iPhone 3G, back when they first came out. 500Mb would have been fine as O2 was so bad I hardly ever got a 3g connection anyway.

    The other real problem is that once you exceed your limit it has been truly punitive in the past. So if you forgot you could end up owing a lot of money.

    Three for me :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm like you, I have a 3G and it was on an 18 month contract. The moment the contract ended I switched over to T-Mobile, dropped my monthly payment to £15/month, and ended up with a free PS3 for signing up! O2 didn't give a rat's ass about me until I rang them to ask for my PAC. They are expensive and getting moreso now it seems.

      I'm just hoping now T-Mobile gets the iPhone at some point so I can upgrade, as I'm not so keen to pay for the phone outright.


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