Choosing a mobile phone contract has long remained a far more challenging prospect than it should be, so major kudos goes to O2 today for saying: enough is enough.
In a radical overhaul of its existing tariffs, the telco has announced that from 1 February it will boil all its existing price plans down to just six simple choices. Once the price plan is chosen, it can then be customised by simple bolt-on packages such as unlimited data, unlimited O2 to O2 calls, weekend minutes and text packages, etc. So how does it all work out?
In theory the whole caboodle looks rather good, six minute/SMS plans are available: 75/125, 200/200, 400/500, 600/500, 1200/500 and 3000/500. The monthly price for each of these plans depends on whether you take out a 12, 18 or 24 month contract or a Simplicity (phone-less) deal. From here you add your bolt-ons, which are all priced at £7.50pm (one will come free on all contracts 18 months or longer) and should you go outside your allowance calls, texts and picture messages are charged at a standard 20p, 12p and 25p respectively. Voicemail is completely free on all tariffs.
As for the iPhone, new and existing customers get perhaps the biggest benefits of all with O2 massively increasing the amount of minutes and texts given to users at each price point to bring them in line with its new simplified tariffs.
Consequently, £35pm plans see allocated minutes and texts leap from 200/200 to 600/500 (the old £45pm allocation) while £45pm plans jump from 600/500 to the previous £55pm entitlement of 1200/500. The £55pm tariff itself is scrapped and replaced with a £75pm plan for ultra heavy users which offers a monstrous 3000 minutes per month along with 500 text messages. All iPhone contracts remain 18 months in length and come with free unlimited data and WiFi access, plus the handset's own Visual Voicemail.
Quite simply, hats off to O2.
In related news, it is being reported that almost one quarter of the 4m iPhones sold to date have been unlocked. This leaves Apple in a catch 22 situation since any measures taken to beef up the security on the handsets will undoubtedly reduce unit sales, while failure to act will reduce its pull with telcos who are no longer seeing the iPhone as the network exclusive model it was claimed to be.
Kudos to our technologically advanced consumers. Ball's in your court Apple...