O2 may have an excellent nationwide network with strong reception as well as the exclusive UK licence for the iPhone, but its mobile broadband offerings have – to be brutally honest – been woefully lacking.
That is until now since the telco has at last got its act together to churn out a consumer friendly high speed HSDPA service and consign its controversial 3G offering to the bin.
Launching immediately, ‘O2 Mobile Broadband’ will initially run at up to 1.8Mbit – increasing to 3.6Mbit in June – with a 3GB monthly data allowance that will cost existing customers just £20pm. Exceed the allowance and you’ll get hit by 20p per additional megabyte, harsh but not as bad as some. What’s more, sign up for an 18 month contract and you’ll also get the USB modem free. Sound good?
Well if you ask me, it sounds ”alright” but it certainly has the whiff of a network playing catch-up. You see take a closer look – as we like to at Trusted – and you’ll see the likes of Vodafone offering the same 3GB allowance for just £15pm on a 7.2Mbit connection (a speed it has offered since last year). 3 matches Vodafone on price too (though at 3.6Mbit) and for casual users starts 1GB deals off at just £10pm.
Then there’s the modem charge. If you want a PAYG deal O2 will charge a whopping £119.99 for one, by contrast 3 charges £69.99.
Ultimately however I don’t want to bash O2 too much. As a first true HSDPA entry it isn’t half bad and coverage should be strong. The network is also trying to patch up existing 3G issues and it should be a real player in the mobile broadband market a year down the line.
”In related news” those poor Irish – who didn’t even receive their O2 iPhones until 14 March (and missed out on flat rate data, WiFi and Visual Voicemail in the process) – won’t be getting the £100 iPhone price cut currently being enjoyed by we Brits. It’s a good thing the Guinness is plentiful over there…
”’Update:”’ Got a pic now of the O2 modem – pretty! Also making us smile is news that the service will offer free access to all Cloud WiFi spots, but dampening our spirits somewhat is news that should you cancel any of your existing O2 services during the life of your 18 month mobile broadband contract the price will jump to the aforementioned £30. That’s not really on…