back to article O2 goes flat on data

O2 is launching a flat-rate tariff on 1 October - sort of. Costing £7.50 a month, the bolt-on is being called unlimited, but in fact is capped at just 200MB. The launch was widely predicted, but the low cap comes as something of a surprise when the competition (3 UK) is offering a 1GB cap for £5 a month, though it is better …


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  1. Mike Taylor

    So "capped" means...

    that I'll get an annoying email every month or I get cut off or charged more or... what? Surely O2 didn't flesh that out?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Limited limits

    There should be a law against advertising a (severly) limited service as limited. If it is all-you-can-eat, its that, not all-you-can-eat-that-we-care-to-give-you-not-more. Or maybe it (the law) should be that they should advertise it as 7.5/200MB.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical British RipOff

    Need anyone say more? I guess one should post a special entry in Wikipedia about Unlimited meaning Limited ! However if one asks EVEN a five year old, would surely say OPPOSITE of unlimited is limited, as per Oxford dictionary. Whatever next !

  4. Hedley Phillips

    It is either capped or it's unlimited...

    It can't be both.

    God I hate marketing people. Surely they must feel a little dishonest with this sort of rubbish.

    Oh but it's a fair use policy, yeah, but with a cap.

  5. abigsmurf

    more misleading advertising

    Time for a trip over to the ASA website. I know courts have ruled before in favour of 'unlimited' services but providers keep pushing the limit. Hopefully if enough people complain about the practice the ASA will act on it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It still irks me that companies are allowed to get away with using the term unlimited for offers that clearly aren't.

  7. Trevor Watt

    Ulimited fivers!

    Perhaps someone should email the top bods at O2 offering a service where for a monthly fee of £1000 they can get unlimited £5 notes. Capped at a total of 150. Then we will see if they can work out what unlimited means.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do regulators do ?

    I think I may soon start to sell computer systems that will be future proofed for the next 100 years.

    In very small prints, as long as the users stick with what they use now for the same period of time, ie, Windows XP, Office XP, IE6, installing any other software will viod the hardware, software and the future proof warranty.

    Surely the regulator can't hold me against that as I have stated clearly what they are. This regulator is just a pile of shit, allowing such to happen, and worst still, O2 (and all others who abuse the word 'unlimited') has the face to do it, how about if their customers telling them :

    I am going to pay you this month in full for whatever I used and whatever O2 charges me, but in small prints, saying that I will only pay upto a maximum of £30/month.

  9. Rich Silver badge


    I thought this nonsense with advertising "unlimited" was addressed a while ago. Didn't ofcom drag someone over the coals about such advertising fairly recently?

  10. leslie


    So if I buy 'unlimited', exceed my 200mb, and get charged extra, as we know they would, and I refuse to pay and go to court, who/should/win, after all I 'paid' for unlimited......

    Surely the (english)laws stand on the (english)wording, unlimited means 'all you want'

  11. rikki


    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand complaint lodged.

    i'm sick and tired of having to dig to find out what the limits are on "unlimited" tarrifs. unless someone is willing to offer a truly unlimited tarrif they should not be allowed to advertise as such.

  12. Rob

    Reg bring them all to heel

    Surely the Reg with it's journalistic powers should bring this sort of thing as a complaint to Trading Standards for misleading promotion (maybe even get Ofcom involved if you can find the right angle).

    For the good of all your readers :)

  13. Cyberspice

    Not unlimited but still an improvement

    Having just been hit with a £250 quid mobile phone bill for last month due to data costs (Our broadband change over went a bit wrong meaning we had no internet for over a week and I needed to use my phone to check work e-mail and so on) this is so going to be an improvement for me. I probably wont use 200Mb even when using my phone to provide internet connectivity to my laptop through bluetooth and it comes out cheaper that 'PAYG data' even if you download just a few MB of data. I'll be signing up...

  14. Ze Stuart

    (o2 == error) {true}

    Just went to the site to try and find the bolt on specifics, and a) I couldn't find them and b) I got this error:

    XSLT Portlet is temporarily unavailable.

    So probably not the sort of people you'd want your data from anyway.

    Ah but for the days of Genie...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair Use?

    Fair use on an unlimited service? If you pay for unlimited useage, then surely there is no limit for 'fair use' - otherwise what's the point?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb or Dumber?

    Maybe o2 would like to look up the latest ASA ruling against Orange (and brought to their attention by T-Mobile). The ruling confirms that operators cannot describe services as 'unlimited' whilst imposing limits that are anything but intended to protect against fraud / misuse.

    Given o2 must be aware of the ASA findings, they are either deliberately playing dumb, or are actually so dumb they are unaware of relevant rulings.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Ian Ferguson


    I wonder if they'd let me use this with an iPhone... I'd love to get one, but not at a ridiculous £35 a month. If I bought an iPhone, plugged in a pay-as-you-go SIM and subscribed to the £7.50 / 200mb / month bolt-on, I'd be more than happy. But here's guessing O2 wouldn't be.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Thats 6.66... MB a day for a 30 day month. I know they have sold there soul to Apple but come on!

    and nowhere near enough, obviously.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Unlimited?

    'Unlimited' access or 'unlimited' usage, though?

    Seems to me that what is really meant is 'unlimited access' (ie. no limits to how/where/when you can access the service) whereas most people seem to think it's 'unlimited usage' (ie. all the bandwidth you can eat and then some)

    Either way, the argument still stands - companies need to stop advertising services as unlimited (usage or access) when clearly they aren't. Trouble is, it seems that the ASA are too spineless to do anything about it. Plus, crap like this is the reason I'm planning to dump O2 for T-Mobile when my current contract is up - O2's coverage is so patchy where I am that even describing the service as 'unlimited access' involves being extremely economical with the truth.

    Also, show me an honest marketing person and I'll show you someone who can put his underpants on without taking his feet off the floor (putting underpants on head doesn't count, unless you're in marketing of course ;-) )

  21. Glenn Gilbert

    Time for the ASA to step in?

    Adverts need to be "legal decent honest and truthful". Unlimited plainly isn't, therefore O2 are lying.

    Isn't this the job for the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority)?

    (OT) Still not sure about the legality of an iPhone (iPony?) being locked to O2.

  22. mark

    Getting Better

    Misleading aside, this is a huge step forward for a company that until a few months ago, would only offer consumers a 4MB data 'bolt on' for a fiver, and charge them £3 per MB afterwards.

    At least the money I'll save from this will make up for the money that I will lose from O2 choosing to no longer take 0870 / 0845 calls out of your free minutes...

    Phone companies are all the same. Every penny you save, they'll find another way of extracting from you.

  23. Richard Hicks

    The other difference...

    It appears the author, and a majority of the people making comments here have missed the other difference.

    Leaving the "unlimited" argument out of it.

    The £7.50 bolt on is only valid for use when browsing using your mobile phone, NOT for use with a computer as a bluetooth modem, or a datacard.

    The £30 bolt on, covers usage via all means.

    Quoted from o2 website:

    "O2 Web Bolt On gives you unlimited* browsing through your phone for £7.50 per month

    O2 Web Max gives you unlimited* browsing with a data card for £30 per month"

    This is also confirmed by the conversation I just had with select customer services when I signed up to the £7.50 bolt on about 30 seconds ago.

  24. mark

    O2 Linky

    By the way, the details are on O2's website at

    Interestingly they don't really make the clear distinction that the £7.50 one is not 'intended' for using your phone with a data cable. Suggesting the £30 is only for 'data cards' leaves the whole thing open to interpretation.

  25. Brendan Weir

    Fairs fair

    They offer an "unlimited" service that really means there is a limit. That's fine as long as I'm allowed to pay for it with a similarly "unlimited" direct debit.

  26. Damian Skeeles

    T-Mobile is what you want

    I joined in the heady early days of Web'n'Walk and the HTC Tytn / Vario II

    So I have 2Gb of HSDPA data for #7.50 a month, admittedly before the revised tariffs (to 1Gb, and with content filtering), so it also works with video, VPN, Skype, etc. I'm not sure what happens if you exceed it, as I never have.

    Impressive that the first true mainstream flat-rate data package that was out there, is still the best value....


  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phone/Laptop/Computer THERE'S NO DIFFERENCE 6.6MB IS A JOKE!

    It makes no difference if your browsing through your phone or computer! Have you seen the state of the latest Nokia E series handsets (which no doubt O2 support). You can surf the net, download porn, leave MSN on all day, facebook or ghettospace to your hearts content!! You'll eat through that 6.6MB in no time at all!

  28. Fluffykins

    Lets put the boot on the other foot


    YOO HOO!


    I'd like a mobile phone please, with a line and 500 minutes a month and I'm prepared to pay an unlimited monthly subscription*********

    ****** The payment is capped at £0.50 per month

    Any takers?

  29. mat

    ASA complaint

    I have submitted my comlaint on the ASA website.

  30. Ben Benson

    Come on now....

    Annoying as it might be that corporate marketing strategies are often just blatant lies, aren't we all used to it by now?

    Yes this article has given rise to many irate and hilarious comments, which is great entertainment while at work. But cant you just look at it as the word "unlimited" when used in a marketing or sales context, no longer means "unlimited". What we can take from this is that fair usage policies (or this one at least) means you wont be charged for over usage, but receive a warning instead.

    Forget the misuse of the term "unlimited" and look at the T's & C's. If it is a reasonable price for a reasonable quota, and the over usage charges (i'm sure there are some hiding somewhere) aren't excessive, then it might be a good deal. Simple as that!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlimited argument deja vu

    We've had this argument before. The Government palmed the issue off to the ASA to deal with on a case by case basis.

    The Register had an article about the petition to Downing Street:

    "Orange was rapped by the ASA for advertising an "unlimited" service, but only because it forgot to include the small print which limits users to 40GB per month."

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: phone 'v ' laptop

    There is a difference - you are hardly likely to leave your phone downloading a film over bittorrent for hours at a time, or spend hours playing FPS games over the net. There is a world of difference between checking out a few pages or collecting mail, and full on internet usage, PC style.

    Personally, I'm quite happy with T-Mobiles £7.50 / month addon. Unlimited (ok, 1 GB) and HSDPA instead of crappy Edge. Last time I looked at O2s offerings, they wanted 90 quid a month for a gig and even then you had to be a business customer. About time they woke up.

    Used on my HTC Trinity, that gig never gets used, but I'm using the net all the time, gmail, google maps, internet banking, reading /. or the Reg. I have set up SSH and FTP too so I can send photos straight from the (built in) camera to my web server. Pages on /. come in at about half a meg each all told, and over HSDPA it's pretty snappy.

    Wake me up when the unlimited allowance comes as standard.

  33. Martin Edmondson

    no they don't

    from an email from o2:

    "We'll be introducing unlimited Data Bolt On with our new business tariffs 01 October 2007. This service is available only to our business customers and not to our Pay Monthly customers."

    thought the iphone was aimed at the non-business user?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they know you're on a laptop?

    If I connect a laptop with bluetooth to the mobile and browse the web on the £7.50 a month plan, would o2 be able to spot that and block it? Can they tell your requests are from an external device? I would take out the £7.50 plan so I can check my email on a laptop and for general browsing, but I don't want to pay £30 for a load of bandwidth I won't use

  35. Danny Thompson

    We are not all Advertising People

    It is simply not good enough to say that the word "Unlimited" is acceptable Advertising speak. The word has to be used in the context that it is commonly understood to mean. Not how some clever Advertiser or Barrister can talk their way out of in a UK courtroom.

    We, the masses, all understand the word "Unlimited" to mean without limits of any kind (use or capacity). For O2 to then impose artificial "Limits" such as what you may use it for and how much data you may access with the plan is unacceptable.

    If we, and the regulators, allow this continued and deliberate fork in the English language we will all soon have to employ legal firms to understand the simplest of statements.

    Time for a test case in the UK High Courts methinks. Before this particular handcart arrives at the open gates of Hades.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Reason...

    ... Why OFCOM & the ASA need to get involved here!

    UNLIMITED in the dictionary means 'to have no restrictions or controls' so how the hell can these companies advertise broadband at unlimited when they have caps, throttling, fair usage etc - that is not the definition of unlimited.

    Its about time both ofcom and the asa grow some balls and get this sorted NOW, what the hell is the point in them being there if they do sweet FA?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I'm only allowed 3MB apparently

    Tried to get the bolt on, confused the CS person completely, talked him through his own web site until he found it and then got told I'm not eligible.

    He said, "this is aimed at the iPhone, have you heard of it?" To which I said no, not really, with the reason for my need for data being my shiny iPhone sat next to me ;)

    All we can offer you is browse and download, that would probably do you, that is £3 for 2MB, after which I was quite abrupt and put the phone down. All I wanted to do was give him my money dammit.

  38. Gordon

    Completely ridiculous.

    How the hell can they stick a sign on it saying "Unlimited" and then put a "Cap" (euphanism for "limit") on the service. What really annoys me is they dress it up as a "fair use" policy - as if they're some benign arbitary authority intending to prevent ner-do-wells abusing their system to the loss of ALL the other customers.

    I wonder how far i'd get if I subjected my mobile bill to a "fair payment" cap of £10 a month in order to make sure there was enough money left in my bank account to pay all my other creditors? About as far as the nearest mags court, most likely.

    It's total ballcocks. Unlimited MEANS "unlimited". The thing is that even if the ASA finds against them, they'll simply be fined a piffling amount and asked not to use such an approach again, when really they ought to be fined 10 percent of their annual turnover and be made to honour their "contracts".

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To the person who was told they couldn't have the bolt-on - I phoned them on Friday after reading the article, helped the guy find the product, and had it applied to my account, and my previous data bolt-on (20mb for £10) removed. It goes live tomorrow. I'm on a pay monthly contract, sim-only, with a k750i. I think you've been done!

  40. Law


    Don't bother trying them, I tried it and got a letter yesterday where they told me to go f**k myself basically. Ah well...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rip off pricing

    In the UK I have a Vodafone 3G (UMTS) data card 3.6MB/S - 3Gb / Month - cost £25 + Vat (£29.95) / M

    If I exceed the limit it is £4 /Mb

    In Austria I have A1 (Vodafone) 3G (UMTS) data card 7.2MB/S - 3GB / Month - cost 22€ / M

    If I Exceed the limit it is 0.1€ / Mb

    So why is the UK over twice the price for the same service ???

    Same goes for Tele calls

    Mobile UK 5p/min

    Mobile Austria 0.05€ / Min (10€ PayG typically lasts 3 months !!!)

    And many other Telecoms comparisons

    UK is typically twice the cost for the same operator ...... can someone explain.

    UK Prices have a LOooooooonnnnggggg way to compete with EU prices.

  42. Alex_Ponders

    exorbitant Data Charges

    With the exception of t-mobile who seem to be leading the way in reasonably priced wireless data plans (even on pay and go!) the mobile network operators it seems, are reluctant to compete too aggressively with each other in the UK in any area but presently , data presently.

    Also, o2 have recently announced they're intention to enter the home broadband market (presumably through leased sub standard bt copper line).

    Err.. maybe instead they should be rolling out HSDPA (which can provide broadband speeds..wirelessly ) and revising their data plans to encourage uptake, but instead they'd rather fritter away millions on the launch of yet another mediocre isp that can provide speeds up to *insert unachievable as seen in their future billboard campaign speed here* .

    Can't wait for the which review!

    Expect more of the same mediocrity and misleading promises of service from these extortionists.

  43. Alex_Ponders
    Thumb Down

    exorbitant Data Charges

    With the exception of t-mobile who seem to be leading the way in reasonably priced wireless data plans (even on pay and go!) the mobile network operators it seems, are reluctant to compete too aggressively with each other in the UK in any area but presently , data particularly .

    Also, o2 have recently announced their intention to enter the home broadband market (presumably through leased sub standard bt copper line).

    Err.. maybe instead they should be rolling out HSDPA (which can provide broadband speeds..wirelessly and is more fitting to their current business model ) and revising their data plans to encourage uptake, but instead they'd rather fritter away millions on the launch of yet another mediocre isp that can provide speeds up to *insert unachievable as seen in their future billboard campaign speed here* .

    Can't wait for the which review!

    Expect more of the same mediocrity and misleading promises of service from these extortionists.

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