updated 10:00 am EDT, Thu June 10, 2010
O2 makes 500MB cap common for most smartphones
O2 UK today joined in the steps backwards from unlimited plans by rolling out a new set of smartphone plans that cap data use. All new and upgrading customers as of the iPhone 4's June 24 launch will have plans with a fixed amount of data that will require Bolt-On extensions to extend. Customers will have to pay either £5 for each extra 500MB block of data or £10 for another 1GB.
The carrier has also set some of the lowest average caps in the UK. Two-year contract plans between £25 per month and £35 per month stop at 500MB before they need Bolt-On data. It isn't until £40 that customers get 750MB of data, and the most included data tops out at the £60 plan's 1GB. Customers on existing service are unaffected, but new and upgrading customers will only get unlimited data as a promo until October 1.
Officials at O2 spun the caps as providing "clarity" for customers and said it would send text messages to let customers know as they get near their caps, but the reduced data is an about-face from unlimited plans that were unveiled as recently as February. Carriers like Orange offer 750MB even on their least expensive plans, while Vodafone UK can offer 500MB of data for as little as £15 per month.
The strategy appears to follow that of AT&T's newly limited data plans, which themselves were timed for the iPhone 4 unveiling and are meant to get as many new customers as possible using capped services.