At the end of my tether…

With iOS 4.3 due for imminent public release, I will soon be able to enjoy enhanced productivity and functionality in my iPhone 4. As before, this latest iOS update will be free from Apple, but one of the most useful new features in the operating system won’t be available unless I dip into my wallet. Frankly, I’m not happy about that….

I’m lucky enough to have a MacBook Pro and an iPad at my disposal, and I pay O2 good money on a monthly basis for the privilege of owning and using an iPhone 4. Notwithstanding any fair usage policy or the removal of so-called ‘unlimited’ data plans, I do have 500Mb per month data allowance included in my contract, which frankly I never get close to using up as I spend most of my iTime in areas where WiFi is available.

Whilst the iPhone is great, there are occasionally times however when I’ve been away from home on business or on holiday where it would be much more efficient to work on some emails, blog posts (!) or just surf using my laptop or iPad but I’m not within range of a public WiFi hotspot. The solution to this problem seems obvious – share the 3G internet connection from my iPhone! Sounds simple right? It’s a feature that I believe should have always been available, and it’s good news that with iOS 4.3, Apple have finally seen fit to allow us to use our iPhones as personal wireless hotspots. But there’s a catch…

The bad news is that O2 (other carriers are available) will want to charge us for the privilege of sharing the data we’ve already paid for. Frankly, I think this is ludicrous. Data is data, so what difference does it make to the carrier if I’m sending a bunch of emails from my MacBook Pro or my iPhone? What difference does it make if I’m browsing on my iPhone or iPad? None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So is this a case of Apple controlling how we use their devices, or are the carriers simply being greedy? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both, but as long as my iOS device works, I don’t really have an issue with the former – that’s the reason it works – but I do have a big issue with the latter.

If I was going to be a heavy hotspot user, or frequently require more than the 500Mb allowance, I’d quite happily pay for a data ‘bolt-on’. As it is though, I can’t think of a single valid reason for charging an additional premium just so I can make best use of the data allowance that I have already paid for – the hardware is capable, and with iOS 4.3 the software is too.

It’s not the first time – and I’m sure it won’t be the last – that I truly am at the end of my tether when it comes to mobile tariffs.

**UPDATE 29.03.11** O2 have announced new tariffs – “Our new flexible Pay Monthly tariffs launch today, offering 12 month options for current customers, greater choice of data allowances, and inclusive Internet Tethering for the very first time…”

That sort of sums it up really, but full details can be found here. Common sense seems to have prevailed, and now when you buy data from O2, you can use it as you see fit (within reason of course). It’s quite nice to see tiered data allowance options of 100Mb, 500Mb or 1Gb so you can pick what you need according to your requirements, and of course that 12 month option for existing customers might come in handy if you simply must upgrade your handset annually.

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2 thoughts on “At the end of my tether…”

  1. This stupidity is a sign of O2’s paranoia, but totally misplaced. As you’ve said you have already paid for 500Mb of 3G data and do not use it. The devices are perfectly capable of sharing that data usage. Why not just use all that O2 3G data by downloading videos etc with Wifi off, drive around with google maps sucking in updates as you move from cell to cell. If we all did this…
    Seriously I think the telcos are toast in the long term. They cannot cope with IP traffic today, nevermind the explosion of low cost smartphones (iPhone nano-like) on their way. The carriers have no infrastructure or cash to upgrade to the next standard of data service and demand is only going to grow. Their response is only to slide and dice the data flow at expensive rates as if it was scarce, because it is through their networks. I’d hope they get bought-out by cash rich backers determined to seed the kind of network we need for the future. Fast, abundant and cheap. Or perhaps regional WiMax takes hold, like the one planned for Clackmannanshire. Ubiquitous wireless broadband in a 5 mile area sounds great if you get the signal.

    Grump more. I’m 0.5miles from my O2 transmitter and get cut off frequently with 1 bar, not even an EDGE signal. Grrr

    1. I’m fairly certain I’ll be looking to move carrier when my current O2 contract expires, more because of poor 3G coverage rather than the misplaced paranoia over data usage. For now though as far as I can tell, if I want to use the new iOS 4.3 mobile hotspot capabilities on their network, I’ll have to pay an extra £7.50 per month for a 500Mb tethering bolt-on. Crazy, and I seriously hope that O2 have a rethink.

      As for being able to receive Clackmannanshire’s proposed WiMax signal, I’ve got my fingers crossed – it’s a 4.3mi walk from my house to the centre of Alloa 😉

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