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Meagre O2 UK Data Allowances Fail to Impress with New 4G Tariffs

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 (1:39 pm) - Score 2,516
o2 uk

Mobile operator O2 UK (O24G) has finally revealed the price and package details for their new 4G (LTE at 800MHz) based Mobile Broadband network, which is due to go live on 29th August 2013. Unfortunately the new tariffs leave much to be desired, at least where data allowances are concerned.

As with Vodafone and EE before it, O2 will similarly launch their 4G network alongside a less than spectacular selection of data allowances. The cheapest tariff will cost £22 per month when you bundle-in a new smartphone (or £26 SIM-Only) and for that you get Unlimited texts / calls and 1GB (GigaByte) of data.

Admittedly it’s early days yet but Ofcom’s expectation that 4G will soon begin to erode the market for fixed line broadband services is still looking to be someway off from becoming a reality. Thankfully some packages do get a few extra GigaBytes, as part of an introductory offer, but this is only temporary.

o2_uk_4g_mobile_broadband_packages

In some ways the current situation has become almost comical. Each of the three 4G operators now tout packages that look as if they could have come from a single network, let alone three of them (well.. technical it’s two since Vodafone and O2 have a network sharing deal just like EE/T-Mobile/Orange UK and Three UK).

But in fairness most of the 4G operators do have their own particular promotions and extras that serve to set them aside from each other. EE has its Film service, while Vodafone are bundling Sky Sports TV and Spotify (music) content. So what has O2 got that will help it go “beyond what has already been offered in the 4G market“?

O2’s 4G customers will benefit from a 90 Day Happiness Guarantee (if you aren’t “totally happy” within 90 days then they’ll transfer you to a 3G tariff and give you a bill credit up to £15), 12 months of free O2 Tracks (a music download and streaming service – £1.50 per week thereafter), Priority Sports (exclusive sports videos “from your heroes every week“.. whatever that means) and O2 Games (a bunch of free multiplayer Smartphone games like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hero and Zombiewood). We’re still underwhelmed.

It’s also worth pointing out that O2 has yet to unveil what their dedicated Mobile Broadband (USB Dongle / Modem) tariffs will look like, although apparently this will be revealed before the end of the year. Otherwise O2’s network will initially reach 5 million people in London before expanding to cover 12 other UK cities by the end of 2013 (here). The operator eventually aims to reach 98% of the UK population (indoor and outdoor).

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17 Responses
  1. Avatar Kyle

    Be less dog at those prices and allowances.

  2. Avatar 3G Infinity

    O2’s launch using 800MHz means they have much less spectrum, and hence much less bandwidth, to throw around – hence the restricted tariffs. They don’t have 2.6GHz to fall back on, unlike EE and Vodafone (unless they borrow some from BT, their old parent).

  3. Surely they can just increase the (directional?) transceivers to help with that to allow for more connections = more back haul on that spectrum. Plus they have the network infrastructure sharing with Vodafone so they are saving costs there.

    My understanding on 4G infrastructure is lacking so please correct me!

    • Avatar DanielM

      They still need the connectivity (and in some places you cannot simply Fibre the tower) and i believe the sharing is the radio network only not the actual site backhaul.

      btw what they are launching isnt 4G it’s LTE which is 3G (Well more like 3.9G) mark did an article on it some time ago if i recall correctly.

    • Avatar 3G Infinity

      hi,

      Please see my note above, they only have 2 x 10MHz at 800MHz, that’s 10MHz down and 10MHz up – in the real world that means 30Mbps+ (maximum of 50Mbps per 10MHz) shared over all the users on that sector. (There are typically 3 sectors per site).

      So even if they connect with fibre it makes no difference, they are limited by the 10MHz channel size.

      It is 4G, ie it uses LTE and at some point soon will be upgraded to LTE-A (or advanced) whihc will allow for a speed increase and yes closer to what everyone hopes 4G will deliver.

      By contrast, EE is using 15MHz per LTE channel and has been showing 40Mbps+ on speed tests in major cities.

    • Avatar DanielM

      @3G Infinity

      It’s not 4g. LTE-A is 4g though.

      Getting back to the point. the backhaul part from o2’s side has never been that good. while other operators (mainly three,t-mobile,ee) have the potential of 20Mbps+ i’ve never seen over 8-10Mbps on o2.

      there has been talk of them using CBNL on the LTE network though. which should make things faster.

    • Avatar ant

      ‘while other operators (mainly three,t-mobile,ee) have the potential of 20Mbps+’

      EE/Orange/TMobile go much faster than 20Mb as seen in this speedtest elsewhere…

      http://www.speedtest.net/android/508303275.png

    • Avatar DTMark

      Bah = even Three can do 20 Meg. Late at night 🙂

      http://www.speedtest.net/result/2901474353.png

    • Avatar DanielM

      @ant

      That’s LTE, i was refering to their HSPA+/DC-HSDPA networks. (Hence the o2 backhaul part)

    • Avatar Bob

      They can but that considerably increases costs

  4. The “big cheat” is that these UK mobile operators, with the exception of Three, are effectively ripping off the UK customer and profiteering at the same time. No surprise there? Well there should be. LTE is widely acknowledged as being more cost effective to implement, operate and maintain. The figure often put about is that LTE comes along free for operators installing the new base stations that deliver 2GT, 3G and LTE combined. The lower costs come about through [not only] the integration of the various radio standards plus lower power requirements for the cabinets. It is win all the way – and that is without jacking up the tariff simply because of the speeds.

    There are other international Mobile Operators who have sold LTE at prevailing 3G tariffs. And the story is illustrated clearly by the UK’s least financially flush mobile operator giving LTE away inclusive of their incumbent tariffs, which have recently been reduced significantly. This is not the time for Three to operate as a loss leader, just a few years after it has gone into profit!

    Face the facts – LTE is a data-only network. So why have the operators elected to give away Voice and Text that will be carried across their 2G/3G networks. Only your mobile data will transit the LTE – until VoLTE is deployed, and that is still some time off. The operators have bid and paid millions for the LTE licences, deployed the kit, and are drip-feeding the data to you at massively increased prices.

    So make your own mind up. Who’s kidding who?

    • Avatar DTMark

      I’d always wondered about the hardware investment needed for operators to go from 3G to 4G. Or in some cases, from 2G/GPRS (that would be O2, here) to 4G.

      Price is one way to manage contention. We pay £45/mo to Three for 30GB which is delivered at between about 12Meg down and 21Meg down, and 2.5Meg to 4.5Meg up. That’s for “home broadband”, it was until last week the only broadband option here.

      Now, we could have EE’s 4G as it has just come to the area. We should get a good signal. Pricing that up, it’s exactly twice as expensive per month as Three. Same usage is £90/mo.

      If we had some semblance of a decent national fixed line network, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. Fixed line would automatically be a preferred choice. At present it looks to me that mobile operators have to manage data use via price, at least at first. Ideally they don’t want people like us 🙁

      A question: say I had EE “fibre” broadband, and EE 4G broadband. Imagine the speeds are about the same. Which costs EE more to deliver 1G of data to me – the fixed line or the cell route?

  5. Avatar Bob

    Bandwidth will always be a problem with wireless

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