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Orange UK Launches iPhone, Vodafone Claims Speed Crown

Gordon Kelly


Orange UK Launches iPhone, Vodafone Claims Speed Crown

Remember how I said this week was fast becoming an unstoppable wave of iPhone news? It's showing no signs of slowing...

Let's keep this compact (again) and roll everything into one. The big news is today sees the launch of the iPhone 3G and 3GS on Orange UK ending the two year O2 monopoly. First announced back in September, the network has controversially decided not to engage in a price war with O2 (in fairness it would have been controversial either way), but does ride on the back of a ringing endorsement for Ofcom over the state of its 3G data network. Orange iPhone tariffs are shown throughout this story for convenience.

Next - and by no little coincidence - Vodafone has used today to claim it has the fastest video download speed for an iPhone. In its latest newsletter the network claims internal tests show it easily bests both O2 and Orange when watching a 10 minute YouTube clip.

All of which tells us two things: 1. it's important not to base too much around internal testing and 2. Vodafone is also not planning to start a price war, but rather a speed war - though this could prove equally beneficial to customers).

Next - and by no littler coincidence - 3 has used today to put a formal complaint to the ASA about Orange's latest advertising campaign which claims it has 93 per cent 3G coverage across the UK "more than any other network".

"We're confident that we have the biggest 3G network in the UK, both in terms of geographic and population coverage, built on a 9,192 site network that grows by around 150-sites each week," said 3 in a statement. 3 claims to have 92 per cent coverage, but says this could easily be boosted to 95 per cent if it used the same system of measurements Orange employed in its network calculations.

Funnily enough, in day-to-day life most networks feel like they have about 50 per cent coverage to me.

"We're happy to open up our network to a third-party to judge," 3 added. "We'd like to see a common standard applied across the industry, to give consumers a more realistic picture of 3G coverage available to UK consumers on all networks."

Tit for tat arguments we're not so fond of, but a common standard sounds a fantastic idea. Then again, will anyone ever agree on the terms?

Lastly - and back on the handset itself - the iPhone has added a significant new app to its repertoire today in the form of 'Sky Mobile TV', which does pretty much what it says on the tin. Live Sky Sports News, Sky News, ESPN and At The Races will be available through the app for £6pm to existing Sky subscribers. It augments the Sky+ remote record, Sky News and Sky Sports Live Football and Cricket apps already in App Store - which begs the question: can't some of these be unified now?

*and breathe*


Orange iPhone

Vodafone speed tests via FoneHome



November 10, 2009, 8:11 pm

The biggest news for me this month was finding an app that gave me train times that I didn't have to pay for. Hooray!

Chris W

November 10, 2009, 8:15 pm

Your article about the Sky Mobile TV app implies that you get Live Sports News, where in fact you can get live sport itself. You get Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, Xtra, Sky Sports News, Sky News, At The Races and ESPN. And if you are on O2 and are one of the first 150,000 to sign up you can have it free for 3 months! Video quality seems great to me although disappointing it doesn't work on 3G.

Lord Comben III

November 10, 2009, 11:00 pm

Those are still some pretty hefty tariffs. a 2 year contract for £70 just to get the phone for free! why is it always 24 month contracts now its just not on, most phones probably wont last 24 months without some insurance claim :( Still nice to see some competition instead of a monO2poly....... see what i did there :)


November 11, 2009, 1:36 am

I dont have an official iphone pay-as-you-go sim and I assume just like all the other phones, you can put an O2 sim in, register with them, after a few days (just trying not to be too obvious) you can ask them to unlock it? Anyone?

I dont mind paying the fees, it saves me the hassle to wait for an unlock (still need the jailbreaking though)...


November 11, 2009, 6:00 am

I have recently moved from o2's simplicity to vodafone sim only now that they too offer unlimited(500mb) Internet on there £20pm tariff along with 600mins and unlimited texts.

The reason I changed was to try vodafone's internet access on my iPhone as apart from that tariff-wise I wasn't really gaining anything and all I can say is what a difference it has made...it is quick! Google maps satellite images load instantly, facebook updates instantly, web pages load fast and I even drove 15 miles streaming Internet radio with only 2 minor buffers something which was pointless on O2 as it would drop way too often.

Another advantage I have found with vodafone is the ability to be able to make a voice call that last for a good 20 minutes without having it cut out and dropping. I know everyone has their own stories to tell but at least in my area(Birmingham) Vodafone is a significant improvement I just hope things don't change when the iPhone officially comes to voda.

Mark Booth

November 11, 2009, 12:28 pm

£6/month for Sky Sports in an interesting new business model for Sky to try. They've never allowed direct access to Sports channels without all the rest you pay for but never watch. However, not working over 3G kind of defeats the purpose of this app. You can't try and sell something as Mobile TV and force customers to find a base station. That sounds like Rabbit TV to me and we all know how successful that worked in the 80's with phones.


November 11, 2009, 2:50 pm

@Gordon: you're right about your impressions (50% coverage), the difference comes from the fact that the networks mean x% of the population, which leaves geographically huge spaces uncovered (if they are unpopulated). This is what we experience when we try roaming on a train or on the road for example (you need to reach the next populated area to get a signal). So they are not lying, but it's clearly misleading!


November 11, 2009, 3:03 pm

@deecee: I know everyone has their own stories to tell but at least in my area(Birmingham) Vodafone is a significant improvement.

My wife'v on Vodafone (East Yorkshire), she gets "Emergency Calls only" all the time. So I suppose it can vary region to region by fair bit. Saying that using O2 on my travels never had any problems, so if you travel a lot maybe O2 is not a bad bet, but I don't think I'd trust Vodafone if I was a big traveller.


November 11, 2009, 4:53 pm

@Manni - thanks for that Manni, very interesting and explains a lot. Do you have a telco background?


November 11, 2009, 9:10 pm

@Keith - it sounds like your wife could do with getting a Vodafone Access Gateway, http://www.vodafone.co.uk/g....

@Manni/Gordon - The coverage also varies according to the urban radio environment such as building structure, large obstacles, and of course the nearest radio mast. Even in some central city areas, coverage can turn into 'not-spots' because of these interferers. It's surprising we get any signal at all.


November 16, 2009, 11:50 am

@Gordon: no telco background, but in France the Telco have to add this small print to their claims, that's how I found out...

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