O2 ditches inclusive internet data from mobile phone contracts

by , Phone networks 29/03/2011
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O2 has today introduced a new range of monthly mobile contracts, including the ability to ‘tether’ your mobile and use it as a modem.

None of O2′s new mobile deals – which will replace its previous range for new and upgrading customers – will include mobile internet data as standard. Instead, O2 is adopting a ‘pick and mix’ approach which it says is simpler and more flexible.

Instead of offering set combinations of minutes, texts and data, O2 customers can ‘tailor’ their mobile deals by picking minutes and text allowance first, and then adding on mobile data only if they want it.

The new deals also, for the first time, allow customers to ‘tether’ their handsets. Tethering allows you to use your phone as a modem, for example by connecting it to your computer or another device, and use your mobile data allowance to browse the net via the attached device.

Text and call allowances

The monthly prices of text and call packages for mobile deals that include a handset  range between:

  • £10.50 a month for a 24 month contract with 50 minutes and 250 texts
  • £62 a month for an 18 month contract with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts

O2 is also introducing a range of 12 month contracts for upgrading customers only, which will be charged at the same monthly rate as 18 month contracts for new customers.

Get more for your money with a Sim-only mobile phone contract

If you don’t need a new handset, O2′s new range of Sim-only contracts start at £10.50 a month for 100 minutes and 500 texts.

Sim-only contracts are a great way to get more monthly minutes and texts much more cheaply, because your monthly fee isn’t subsidising the cost of a handset.  With like-for-like minute and text allowances, you can nearly halve your monthly fee in some cases.

Mobile internet data bolt-ons

By selecting their data package as a ‘bolt-on’ customers will be able to choose how much data they want independent of their minutes and texts. Available data bolt-ons are:

  • 100MB for £3 a month
  • 500MB for £6 a month
  • 1GB for £10 a month

O2′s 500MB and 1GB data bolt-ons will include unlimited public wi-fi via The Cloud and BT Openzone hotspots.

O2′s data bolt-ons aren’t subject to a minimum contract. This gives you the option of changing your data allowance on a monthly basis to suit your needs, or even stopping it entirely if – for example – you’re heading off on a long holiday.

But Which? expert Ceri Stanaway cautions: ‘Mobile deals based around bolt-ons could suit mobile users looking for flexibility.

‘But regardless of how mobile operators divide up their usage allowances, anyone looking for the perfect mobile deal should consider exactly how many minutes, texts and how much data they need, and add up the total cost – including bolt-ons – to ensure they get the most bang for their buck.’

Handset tethering

Internet tethering is now completely included in O2′s data allowances. Wired tethering  is available with a wide range of handsets – although you may need special software to enable it (check with your manufacturer).

With some, compatible handsets – including some Android phones and the recently updated iPhone 4 software – you can also use your handset as a wireless hotspot to connect multiple devices to the mobile internet.

O2 has confirmed to Which? that you cannot tether your mobile using wi-fi hotspots, only using your 3G allowance.  If you’re tempted by tethering, be aware that its much easier to eat-up your data allowance on a computer than on a smartphone – particularly if you use your handset as a wireless hotspot – so keep a close eye on your data limits.

Please note – while our feed suppliers amend their deals to reflect O2′s new mobile phone contracts, we have been asked to temporarily suspend deals sold directly by O2 from Which?. You will still be able to buy O2 mobile deals from third party retailers such as Phones4U on the Which? website. Alternatively, to see the range of deals available direct from O2 please go straight to O2′s website.

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charlie@which

O2 are billing this as a radical new way of thinking about tariffs- I’m not so sure it’s ‘radical’ as such (T-Mobile deals work in a similar way), but it’s certainly positive to see networks being up front and advertising the limits of customers’ data allowances from the moment you purchase

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