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O2 is to introduce charges for its email to SMS notification service, as part of a plan to shift users onto premium business services such as its Blackberry products.

Like many other mobile operators, O2 offers email services via its website, with the handy add-on that it can send you a free SMS alert whenever new email turns up. You get the the sender's name and the subject header sent through, plus the first 120 or so characters of the message itself.

However, from 26th Jan each SMS notification of an email will cost 12p, whatever mobile network it is sent to. In an interesting abuse of the English language, the company describes charging for a once-free service as an "improvement":

On the plus side, O2 says it will disable SMS notification on all accounts before charging begins, so only those users who actively re-select it will be charged.

Its announcement goes on to suggest several alternative ways to access your O2 email, such as using a WAP phone, a PDA or a Blackberry to read your messages while out and about.

Well gosh, that's really helpful. How do they think we read our email today, once we've been notified by SMS that it is waiting for us?

Of course the reality is that only the Blackberry supports email push in the same way the SMS service does, so unless you want to pay 12p per message, you just have one option if that is what you need. ®

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