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O2 giveth; O2 taketh away

Sunday, 23 September 2007 google o2 technology

O2 are souring the pot by removing video calls from inclusive minutes. From next year they cost as much as a cheapish sex line. Hoorah for progress. Hoorah for competition. Perhaps Google can fix things.

While 3G is the future of mobile telecommunications, O2 are trying to claw onto their last remaining threads of vintage 2G badness. I saw this the other day on their online tariff information page:

3. UK video calls

Handset dependent. Video calls are priced identically to voice calls and are included in your minute allowances for a promotional period. From 01.01.08 video calls will be excluded from your minute allowances and charged at 50p/min.

For starters, this was the least publicised “promotion” I’ve ever seen (or not, in this case). I mean, I’ve not seen it anywhere. Then there’s taking the technology heralded as the replacement for voice-only calls and fisting it so hard, nobody in their right mind would consider using it over standard voice calls… 50p a minute is obscene!

This comes shortly after announcing to charge 30p/minute for 08* calls and when paired with the fact that the entire UK mobile telecommunications industry seems to have entered into a non-compete agreement, it really looks like O2 trying to stop people using their phones completely.

That said, O2 are pushing their obnoxious 1meg monthly data limit up to 1gig for all customers (or so their CEO said) so it’s not all bad. I’ll reserve judgement on that for when I’m able to get my emails wherever I am and don’t have to be tied to a computer or wireless access point.

It just seems a strange combination of events. The mobile industry — with the pressure of online services like email and VOIP — is on the brink of implosion and they’re just making things worse for themselves. They have an overwhelming arsenal of 3G tools and they just seem to want to push people off them onto the net.

Perhaps the news that Google is planning to buy up 2G spectrum for 3G use here will scare them into competing again.