back to article O2 takes it to the EDGE

EDGE connections are popping up on O2's network as the company prepares to deploy the 2.5G technology. The sudden outbreak of edginess comes despite the firm paying over £4bn for a 3G license and dismissing EDGE as a redundant technology, and can only be related to the imminent launch of Apple's iPhone. Mr. Jobs promised a …


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  1. Bill Fresher


    If it ain't 3G there's no chance in hell I'd get an iPhone.

  2. myxiplx

    Who cares about 3G?

    Personally I'd rather have edge than 3G for now anyway. 3G - the network that's extortionately expensive and only available in major cities.

    Give me something that's reliable, consistent and reasonably priced anyday.

  3. Anton Ivanov

    Slap or not Slap the capacity is there, why not use it

    Slap or not slap the capacity is there. Most newer GSM kit can be software upgraded to do EDGE and the investment to do that is minimal (usually just some extra software license fees). This is even without looking into the misery of 3G scalability for data access which makes a very entertaining topic in itself.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Webster Phreaky

    Calling all Webster Phreaky's to the mic... Eagerly awaiting your ranting.

  5. Ian

    who cares for 3G? I DO !!

    no money from me...

    no 3G or above (HSDPA) no GPS... no installable apps?

    fookin nazi's I aint paying that kinda money for a £200 phone.

  6. jai

    3G in feb08

    it depends on which rumour sites you believe, but a 3G iPhone could be with us as soon as Feb'08 according to ThinkSecret

  7. Oli


    Why are we taking a step backwards?

    I know it made sense cash wise to use EDGE in the US cause of the vast number of masts that would require new equipment, but in the UK? We've already surpassed it, so why go backwards?

    Apple need to pull their finger out, sort the iPhone 3G problem and let us continue up the speed register rather than going backwards!

    Im already on 3G with a Nokia N73 and am looking forward to faster speeds, anyone who understands the technology will not embrace this offering, unless they are just going for the cheaper option, which seeing as you've just spent £xxx on an iPhone is not what i'd expect people to do.

    You want latest gadget? You want latest Speed!

    You wouldn't get Sky HD if you only had a black & white tele would you?

  8. Dan Ross

    Major city the only chance for 3G is it???

    Funny thing that is, as i get full 3G signal on o2 in Ripon, a city in name only in north yorkshire.

    By heck the locals would love to know we are considered a major city though :)

  9. JayKay

    Who cares?

    So it hasn't got 3G - big deal. It's still got:

    • iPod with CoverFlow

    • Safari

    • Mail

    • Visual VoiceMail

    • YouTube

    and most importantly:

    • WI-FI

    3G is not much better than 2.5G - it's still not broadband. As soon as they're out I'm getting one, 3G or no 3G. And that's all I have to say.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Who cares about 3G?

    Hardly, I've been in several villages and towns that have 3G it isn't just limited to cities by a long shot.

  11. Richard Kilpatrick

    I care

    3G makes mobile working feasible. Extortionately expensive? T-Mobile do an exceptionally good deal if you also need a phone; Flext 35 is £180/month allowance of 'phone' usage, Web 'n' Walk is "unlimited" (I've extrapolated upon this before in other responses; it's "good enough" in real-world terms) and coverage is great.

    WiFi I find infrequently outside of the festering metropolis known as London, and as for hitching a ride on other people's connectivity - most people have sussed out how to make their networks tolerably secure from casual passers by.

    3G is most definitely not only available in major cities. I find it surprisingly frequently - even in the Scottish Borders, my Vodafone has a 3G signal. T-Mobile will no doubt follow soon.

    I'd sure as hell rather have 3G than EDGE - EDGE is painfully slow, and you pay for the data regardless of how it is delivered. You pay per MB fetched, not bandwidth, so why on earth favour EDGE? There's no logical argument; 02 paid for 3G licences, they are providing the tech anyway.

    iPhone may be alright for some people, but I personally think it's a bit of a dud product for the technologically savvy. Even so, the UI is reportedly very nice - it just doesn't compare to devices like the T-Mobile Ameo for actual versatility.

  12. Claire Rand

    data plan

    frankly unless O2 roll out a decent data plan there will literally be no point in getting an iphone over here, this is a company that thinks giving a 3G phone a download allowance of about 3 meg a month is a good idea..

    and then tries to sell more in 5 meg blockas as a 'good deal'

    yeah whatever.

    sort the contracts out and i'll think about it.. 3G v EDGE frankly i don't care as long as it works

  13. Danny Thompson


    3G is fairly ubiquitous in Europe and elsewhere. If Apple want to address the European market then it needs to do so on an even footing with other handsets. I am not convinced that the iPhone will do what it did in the USA where older 2G/EDGE networks are more the norm and UMTS is but a pipedream in most places.

    3G expensive? Not in Europe where the cost of using 3G is the same as for 2G - and even high speed data (HSDPA) is becoming evermore accessible, again for the same price as plain 3G data. EDGE simply cannot compete - and will be a failure in the UK for O2 - but then O2 should be used to failure, it does it with such regularity (anyone remember iMode?).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3G? Well Vodafone and T-mobile have 3.5G

    So many people and so much mis-information. 3.5G is now available on most WM and Symbian Smartphone and people are still talking about using 2.5G! I have a T-mobile 3.5G connection in most places - and I don't live in London but a small town in Berkshire!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3G? Well Vodafone and T-mobile have 3.5G

    So many people and so much mis-information. 3.5G is now available on most WM and Symbian Smartphone and people are still talking about using 2.5G! I have a T-mobile 3.5G connection in most places - and I don't live in London but a small town in Berkshire!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O2 HS Launch & £20 Data Plan

    "frankly unless O2 roll out a decent data plan there will literally be no point in getting an iphone over here...."

    Rumours are that there'll be HSDPA and a £20 per month data package coming out in the next month.

    For those who like EDGE over 3G, I ask you this: Would you rather wait 30s for a web-page with 30 objects to load with EDGE, or 5s with HSDPA, or 3s with HSPA? Add to that the fact that HS is (or will be by year end) ubiquitous on 3G networks (~20000 sites) and there are only a couple of thousand EDGE deployments, and 3G finally delivers on the promises made in 2000.

  17. Daniel Snowden

    Are they serious?

    2.5G, wow! What a giant leap, backwards!

    All this shows is that the iPhone is not ready for the UK market. With all the investment in 3G (and not to mention ludicrous amounts of money they paid for licenses) there's now a device that would have the ability to take advantage of it. Would be able to, that is, if Apple actually took the time to enable 3G rather than using the inferior technology that US cellcos are restricted to.

    Still, I'd laugh if Apple tried to market the iPhone (in its current state) to S.Korea!

  18. Some Guy

    They will buy.

    I think the posters so far don't get the Apple user mindset..

    You can tell them about all the advantages of 3G over EDGE, that Nokia phones already have more features, but you just get blank stares and a response like "but it's an APPLE, it has SAFARI just like my MAC. it's sooooo coool!"

    They will be lined up all over the UK and the rest of Europe for these things, just like the US.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prestatyn and Runcorn are Major Cities?

    Over the past week I have found O2 cells with EDGE enabled around Prestatyn and Runcorn. I thought my Crackberry was freaking out during my daily train ride into Manchester.

  20. Henry Wertz

    iPhone isn't ready for the US market either

    iPhone isn't ready for the US market either. Or, at any rate, not any more ready than it is for Europe..

    There's not much HSDPA (due to AT&T's glacial rollout), but on the CDMA side, there's quite a lot of EVDO. Verizon Wireless has seriously a lot of it, US Cellular has some, Alltel has some. (Since CDMA isn't used in Europe... CDMA-1X tops at 144kbps, a slow EDGE speed more or less... EVDO rev A tops at 3.1mbits/sec, although apparently rural deployments will top at 1.5mbits/sec due to the single T1 running to the cell sites... versus HSDPA supporting 1.8, 3.6, 7.2, or 14.4).

    Apparently, Apple had asked Verizon Wireless to carry the iPhone first (and then would have made it as a CDMA phone) but VZW told them to take a hike; Apple wanted full control over the handset, and VZW did as well 8-).

  21. dan

    calm down, calm down

    no-one (well not many anyway) know exactly what the spec of the european iphone will look like. it may well have 3G (as per the leaked German T-Mobile iPhone launch ads circulating a few weeks ago) and O2 may be upgrading the networks to EDGE so that when a 3G iPhone is out of 3G coverage it will fall back onto EDGE which is better than it falling back to standard GPRS as would be the case now...

    i would put the excitement / rants on hold for a few weeks until there is more detailed information other than random speculation.

  22. Julian Garrett

    to the dickhead above who reckons 3g is not wideband

    you would be quite wrong. HSDPA is currently at 14.4Mb/s

  23. Julian Garrett

    to the dickhead above who reckons 3g is not wideband

    you would be quite wrong. HSDPA is currently at 14.4Mb/s

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Journalist fail to research fully before getting the story out

    Depending on kit EDGE may indeed be a software only rollout but that it was only ever intended as a GPRS upgrade where UMTS might not be available. It's nice technology but already a bit dated: it was supposed to encourage more data use on existing kit while UMTS was being rolled out. But it didn't take off due to the lack of EDGE handsets. In the meantime as most people have posted: UMTS is now nearly as available as GSM/GPRS. Cooperation agreements on mast-sharing or even network outsourcing are helping this along. You probably won't be able to hold many video conference on the side of a mountain but then you won't really need to.

    However, whichever technology is being used is only half of the equation: the bandwidth will still have to be shared with everyone else in the cell EDGE doesn't degrade as efficiently as UMTS because it is not as efficient. So this is really just a bit of headline grabbing to show that o2 is actually serving the data community.

    As for the speculation of the work being done in advance of an o2 iPhone launch: maybe. The PR leaks are certainly generating interest but the fan community will probably just want to buy an iPhone Touch from o2 and carry on texting and phoning using their existing phone as these technologically unsophisticated users are after a better, prettier iPod as much as anything else. Nice cross-marketing opportunity for Apple & o2.

  25. Daniel Bennett

    One Step Closer To The EDGE

    And we're about to break!

    ... Yeh anyway..

    EDGE is 2.5G? So why not amp that up to 3G and oh look job done...

    I don't get why O2 are getting EDGE sorted, when I can't see the iPhone hitting off anyway...

    I'd prefer a Blackberry / Windows Mobile than an iPhone.

  26. Mats Koraeus


    "So it hasn't got 3G - big deal. It's still got:

    • iPod with CoverFlow

    • Safari

    • Mail

    • Visual VoiceMail

    • YouTube

    and most importantly:

    • WI-FI"

    ...which is the whole problem. As a phone^H^H^H^H^H communications device, it is *years* behind just about every other phone on the market.

    If you want those things you've listed, there is the iPod Touch for a hundred less -- and if you like, you can spend those getting a handset that kicks the living snot out of the iPhone when it comes to communication. Or you can just save the money, since chances are that your current phone already does a hellalot more than the iPhone.

    It might work on the US market, but considering the very lacking *phone* functionality in the iPhone, Apple either needs to provide a better offering before they roll out in Europe, or they will have shot themselves in the foot with the iPod Touch.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2.5G is more common than you think

    Well, for what it's worth, 2.5G is still widely used in a lot of countries. I myself am stuck on one (sure, there are 3G telcos, but this one is a lot cheaper). Personally, I don't see any difference in net speed on my TyTN with both sims from the provider who offers 3G and the provider who offers EDGE.

  28. Chad H.

    @Julian Garret.

    Nope, your wrong. HSDPA has a theretical maximum of 14mbs, but not one device on the market, nor any UK network, approach that speed. HSDPA is 1.8 mb now with speed increases "planned for the future".

  29. Paul Rhodes

    @ Chad H.

    Nope, it was 1.8 Mbps last June on Vodafone. Time has moved on and we're now talking 3.6 on Vodafone and 3, with Vodafone about to launch 7.2 and 1.46 EUL.

    Either way, its Broadband alright!

  30. JayKay

    @ Mats Koraeus

    "...which is the whole problem. As a phone^H^H^H^H^H communications device, it is *years* behind just about every other phone on the market.

    If you want those things you've listed, there is the iPod Touch for a hundred less -- and if you like, you can spend those getting a handset that kicks the living snot out of the iPhone when it comes to communication. Or you can just save the money, since chances are that your current phone already does a hellalot more than the iPhone."

    Well I have to disagree Mats. It is not "years' behind. It still makes phone calls. It still sends & receives text messages, it has visual voicemail and if I need to use the web or check my Gmail I can use a Wi-Fi point.

    I really do think you miss the point of the iPhone. It is an easy to use, hassle free device.

    I use my current phone for phone calls, and text messages (k800i) and use Opera mini to access my GMail. Much rather use an iPhone than my k800i!

  31. Barry

    Easy to use JayKay?

    How many hands do I need to use in order to send a text message? (2 hands)

    -- And on a standard device? (1 hand, mostly your thumb)

    How many menus do I need to go through to make a phone call?

    Easy my arse!!

  32. Claire Rand

    20 quid a month data plan

    let me guess with a 'fair usage' cap or about 10 meg a month, oh and probably a whole list of activities that are banned, like any form of instant messenger.

    i'll be looking at the small print before the headline price.

    but if its basically 20 quid for 'x' per month, stated clearly, without the 'unlimited*' rubbish, and any restrictions stated clearly, and not in weasel words.. maybe.

    20 quid just for the data may or may not be ok, it depends what plans you can have it on, if i have to pay for a stupid number of minutes and sms as well in order to qualify.. no.

    currently on 30quid per month if the iphone comes in at under 35-40 quid i'll consider it

  33. sleepy

    it's about cheap unlimited data contracts . . .

    iPhone being Edge is about: battery life between charges, cheap unlimited data contracts that really are unlimited (limited by data rate instead of download caps), and Apple being able to negotiate with every carrier, regardless of the coverage of their 3G.

    Without affordable unlimited data, people aren't going to use it freely, and it would be just for geeks, like the N95.

    Most people haven't a clue what 3G, 2.5G and Edge are anyway. Hardly any iPhone users complain about the data rate; they just accept the way it is, and still love it.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EDGE vs. UMTS?

    EDGE upgraded 2G base stations obviously give better data rates over existing equipment and the area they cover... this serves as good backup to the 3G network of that operator so that when a 3G data call invariably does drop onto the 2G network the user experiences less of drop in service quality than if there was no EDGE at all.

  35. Bill Fresher


    The Three xseries plans come in around 35-40 quid a month and include a fair usage of 1GB a month. I used to be with O2 and switched to Three because O2 couldn't get anywhere near matching these prices. Will be interesting to see what their price plans will be with the iPhone.

  36. Paul Rhodes

    @Claire Rand

    With the 3 Data deals available from £10 for 1 gig, X-Series add-on for £5 a month and Voda's 'premium' service at £25 to >3GB, I think O2 will react to the market and price appropriately with proper data volumes.

    Personally, give the choice would I pick:

    A) iPod Touch + e.g N95 + Any tariff, any operator, giving 8-16GB of iTunes + 8-16GB of DRM-free storage, GPS and HSDPA.

    B) iPhone giving 8-16GB of music restricted to iTunes on a £40+ tariff restricted to O2 for £100 more.

  37. JayKay

    @ Sleepy

    Exactly my thoughts. Far too many people are hung up on "oooo it hasn't got 3G", so what? As long as I can access my data I couldn't care less. What good is 3G when the battery dies?

    And as for Barry, if you can't use 2 hands to type a text message I'll assume you either only have 1 hand, or you don't know how to type.

    The iPhone is revolutionary, and I can't wait to get my hand(s) on one.

  38. Bill Coleman

    do your research please

    The HTC-Touch does not have 3G - just edge

    ...and anyway comparing the two is plain silly - one is a windows mobile smartphone with an impossibly small single touch screen, and the other is a mini OSX computer with large multi-touch screen. If you think joe bloggs isn't going to spot the difference you are mad in the head.

  39. Barry

    No need to be offensive JayKay

    The fact remains that it IS more awkward to use the iPhone for standard phone tasks that we currently take for granted. Therefore, in my book the iPhone is more difficult to use.

    For example, I can quite happily knock out a text message with one hand while using my other hand to carry a coffee or anything else I please. With an iPhone I have to stop whatever I am doing to carry out simple tasks.

    From what I have read, hanging up on a call is awkward (many actions as opposed to one) if you have navigated to anything else on the iPhone (e.g. calendar, contacts) during the call (quite common to check diary or provide a number).

    The iPhone has plenty going for it and it will certainly carve out a healthy market share, but saying it is easy to use is not entirely true and does nothing for its case. Undoubtedly, the added-value functionality will be more accessible to some users who find existing phones cluttered and confusing. The fact remains though, that for a phone to be described as “easy to use,” its core functionality must be easy.

    The iPhone will be revolutionary and will but a rocket in the behinds of complacent incumbent manufacturers. I suspect future incarnations will make it easier to hang up and may even address the need for two-handed usage. If so, I will have been right. I am certainly not alone in thinking this to be a problem.

    You allude to my being one handed as being unlikely but I know two such people and they are keen technologists. There really is no need to be so dismissive or rude about it. It is that kind of response, in defence of an item of consumer electronics, which leads to the term “fan-boy.”

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O2 Edge

    Well I have an iPhone. Edge went live where I live in the middle of last week and was heralded by a little E popping up on my screen. Edge works great on iPhone; browsing is OK and certainly very usable. Mail, weather etc are indistinguishable from on WiFi. Even Maps works acceptably on Edge. To paraphrase another well know saying "It's not the size of the pipe its what you do with it". I'm in no rush for HSDPA.

  41. Gerald Stanley

    Response to Barry


    I'm using an iPhone right now and can tell you that, in my experience anyway, you can type with one hand or two (holding the phone horizontally allows for two thumbs and holding it vertically allows for one hand/thumb).

    If you want to end a call after looking at other applications or documents while on a call you tap the top of the screen which takes you back to the phone from wherever you are. You can also just push the physical button on the top of the phone to end the call and put the phone on standby.

    It's really simple to use.

  42. lee bunce

    sms via iphone

    how long does it take to write and send an sms via the iphone, about 160 characters?

    its just that from reviews ive read, theres jst not much sms being sent from the phone.

    also, hsdpa and soon to launch hsupa are the way forward. Reading on the t-mobile intranet they hope to get to speed of 20Mbps by the end of the decade.

    Also prices are going to plummit for data in the next year or so. Orange and voda are apiring up to share cell sites and there are talks between t-mobile and hutchinson 3 to share 3g cells. This will increase network coverage and make things a heck of a lot cheaper for the networks and hopefully this will be passed onto us the consumers. o2 could be on their own, and from rumours going around they are going to get hammered on their profits from apple.

  43. Danny Thompson

    To all those who say who needs 3G

    .... and that they prefer EDGE! The difference will become apparent in no time at all if you are going to make active use of the iTunes store. Downloads will take a far longer time than they would over 3G or 3.5G. HSDPA is not to be dismissed out of hand, it is a very tangible speed improvement even over standard 3G.

    Over EDGE and if you are mobile at the time of downloading there is going to be a higher chance of drop-outs and disconnects. How the iTunes store will cope with that remains to be seen - this is new ground.

    I don't think that anyone is saying don't buy an iPhone but go in with open eyes. In Europe where 3G is now fairly widespread the notion of brining in a device that compels a mobile network operator to install obsolete technology is laughable. How will O2 and it's iPhone customers feel when the 3G version arrives - unless Apple are seriously expecting us to buy into a time warp.

    I suspect that once iTunes download has been attempted a few times over EDGE people will more likely steer to do future downloads via WiFi. That would render the data portion of the contract with O2 largely obsolete - but still get charged for.

    Time will tell, but EDGE for mainstream data usage in a 3G world-outside-the-USA just seems plain wronger than a very wrong thing.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart Phone aren't all that smart

    I would just like to point out that have a MDA Vario for the past 18 months and the host of problems I have had installing 3rd Party Applications, constant crashing, alarm with a mind of its own, calls not connecting etc... I would rather have a phone which has the basic applications you need, incorporating an iPod.

    Yeah I would love 3G, but after having 3G hand sets in the past and living in one of those few places which doesn't have 3G, also you can't use it on most high speed trains due to huge gaps in coverage along lines, it soon becomes less of an issue.

    Some of us very rarely use the internet outside of the home or office. And as I have pointed out above, for those of us who commute on long journeys wouldn't get a good signal with 3G or Edge.

    Generally for me it breaks down to this, is it easy to use: yes, incorporate iPod and good screen for video: yes, does it get bogged down with unnecessary 3 party apps: no, does it crash every five minutes: no, does it do text message threads: yes, does it do email: yes.

    Then I'm happy (call me old fashioned)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    02 EDGE

    Hi Iive 14 miles and from Manchester and there is a when visiting my Grandparents at the Mottram end of the M67 motorway. ( 2 miles from Woodhead pass in Derbyshire) my 02 Sony W580i reports EDGE as being available from a site ontop backmoor. All the cell sites including my local one around still report GPRS. Also shows EDGE at Manchester train station but only there. Would be great to give it a try but my phone is not accepting the Internet sttings despite going into the O2 shops. Any ideas

  46. N

    EDGE experience.

    Finally got my W580i internet working. Ive got the say it really is quick on mobile web browsing compared to GPRS. Pretty much as quick as 3g browsing. Hopefully they will enable my local transmitter too.

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