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GPRS Mess

Posted on Monday 5th March 2007 at 00:00
Whenever I read a magazine article, watch a television programme or view a news report about the use of mobile internet, I always end up hearing the same message:

'Internet access on mobile phones is a fantastic new invention that will revolutionise the way we communicate and browse the internet, but for some reason, take up of these new services is much slower than expected.?

On Tuesday, I finally figured out why my GPRS wasn't working, and to celebrate, I spent an hour or so browsing a few websites, just to see which ones worked on the phone and how they looked on the tiny screen. I didn't really think too much about what it was costing me, after all, I wasn't downloading songs or videos, or any of the other new things that we are supposed to be doing with our phones.

Imagine my dismay therefore when I checked my credit balance and discovered that I'd shaved around '3.70 off the '10 I'd put onto it just the night before. My texts are free for the first 300 a month, so I knew I hadn't spent any money on those, and I don't often make phone calls, so it must have been the web browsing.

A quick check of the O2 website (if such a site can ever be navigated quickly) tells me that I should be paying as little as 1p per page. Seems like a reasonable rate. Until, that is, I see the tiny little link to people who joined before 30th September 2005.

At this point I have to cast my mind back, as I've been with O2 since about 2002. Rather a loyal customer in need of a bonus you might say. An eventual check of my memory informs me that I changed my sim card in July 2005 in order to get a better deal, and so I click the link.

In this version of the tariff, GPRS is calculated rather differently it seems. Instead of being by page it is by megabyte. '2.35 per megabyte to be exact, which to give you an idea is like loading just one page of my site. '2.35 for that?! That's outrageous!

Not only is it disgustingly priced, but it is on the same call plan as the 1p per page. Exactly the same plan, except the older, more loyal customers get penalised for not changing their sim card (and all the hassle that that involves) within the last 18 months.

At those rates, no wonder no one wants to touch mobile internet! A regular days browsing would cost you more than your handset, and they aren't exactly cheap. I had be considering using the lovely new version of Skype for mobiles, which is supposed to reduce your phone bill by putting the call through the mobile internet rather than the normal phone line. Sadly it would cost me more to do that than it does to make my already overpriced calls.

Get a grip O2, and start delivering a service that might actually be beneficial to your customers, as well as your shareholders!

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