Orange simplifies data charging
Unmetered access for all
Orange UK has followed the other major operators in simplifying its data charging tariffs, and opened up unmetered data access to non-panthers as well as those on pre-paid contracts.
The new bundles include free evening and weekend browsing for £5 a month, or £8 to be able to browse during the day too. Pre-paid customers can pay £5 for seven days unlimited browsing. The new tariffs come in on 1 June.
Orange is very careful to say that the service is "browsing" and not "internet access", leaving it plenty of room to block services it doesn't like the look of.
Its previous unmetered data terms and conditions were pretty clear on what services were frowned upon. "To ensure the fair allocation of network resources for all customers the offer may not be used for: modem access for computers, internet based streaming services, voice or video over the internet, instant mssaging, peer to peer file sharing and non Orange internet based video."
But, unlike Vodafone, Orange seems to accept the impossibility of enforcing such restrictions: "We would discourage any customer from using VoIP through the mobile internet due to the quality of service they may experience. We are looking to launch our own high quality IM service in the next few months which will deliver a far superior customer experience to currently available services.
"Our terms and conditions will state that the bundle should not be used for these services."
It seems likely that the 1GB/month fair-use limit from its previous unmetered tariff will remain in place, though no one from Orange was able to confirm that.
The problems afflicting mobile operators are very much those that fixed-line ISPs are struggling with - it's fine to offer customers massive amounts of bandwidth, as long as they don't actually use it. But the internet is now spawning applications to make use of that last-mile bandwidth, and even if the customer is charged a fixed rate for access, the ISP is paying a per-packet rate to their provider. ®
No modem use? WM5!
T-Mobile offer 3 tiers of "unlimited" browsing - £7.50 for Web 'n' Walk, £12.50 for Web 'n' Walk Plus, but Web 'n' Walk Max which I forget the cost of, but "allows" VoIP.
Anyway, the former two are 1GB and 3GB "Fair Use", and the latter also allows modem use.
I have the former.
It came with a T-Mobile Ameo, which to all intents and purposes is pretty much a computer. When I needed to download a new version of VLC for my Mac, I downloaded to the Ameo's 8GB HD and copied it over ;)
A true UMPC would make this whole "no modem use" laughable.
Fair usage policy, unfair to customer!
How come UK's providers are always playing with those fair usage policy without specify the definition of fair and unlimited. I would say, in the near future, we will see a lot of tariff claiming "UNLIMITED" but actually limited and even worse than those limited plans.
Now, we got unlimited limited broadband, unlimited limited mobile internet, unlimited limited landline call and what's the next? May be unlimited limited utilities supply!!!! lol!
Check the small print...
According to other reports the �8 a month anytime offering wont be available until Q4 2007.
The T&Cs will be crucial. If they go with the same "no modem access for computers" (they almost certainly will) they'll effectively be offering 1GB a month but making it damned hard to get anywhere near that figure since they'd only allow handset browsing.
They could be even sillier. In the past Orange advertised an "unlimited GPRS" offering which was WAP only and with a 10MB limit.
Also this is likely to be limited to certain tariffs. On Orange the minimum current tariff is around �20 a month. So if you just want internet browsing you'd have to pay �20 for something you don't want in order to pay �8 for something you do.
PAYG would be better but, surprise surprise, the �8 offer isn't available on PAYG.