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UK iPhone customers to get fairer usage

But some usage is more fair than others

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O2 has decided that iPhone users on its network won't be limited by their "fair usage" policy, and really will get "unlimited" access to the internet. But other customers signed up for "unlimited" contracts will have to wait and see if O2 decides all their usage is fair too.

UK punters signing up for an iPhone, exclusively on O2 from Friday, will be able to use the Edge network (where available) without having to worry about hitting the company's "fair use" limit.

O2 marketing director Sally Cowdry explains the firm's rethink:

We now appreciate that having set limits as part of the fair use policy conflicted with our objective of encouraging internet usage on the iPhone. People don't speak in megabytes and customer feedback has been that if we say unlimited, it should be unlimited.

But while O2 is keen to encourage iPhone users to use the internet, those opting for any other technology are stuck with the 200MB limit O2 imposes on the £7.50 a month flat rate data tariff, unless they want to shell out an extra £22.50 for Web Max, and even then they're limited to 3GB.

When we suggested this was a little unfair on those not seduced by Mr Jobs' toy, O2 told us it was "currently reviewing the fair use policies on our other unlimited data offerings".

The problem for O2 is that the only difference between "O2 Web" and "Web Max" is that fair use limitation. Remove that and anyone paying £30 a month for Web Max is going to look a fool.

It would, presumably, be possible to sign up for the iPhone tariff and then slip your SIM into an N95 or similar to enjoy truly unlimited access, though it's hard to say if that would give you 3G access as the iPhone has no use for such technology.

O2 should be applauded for offering a proper unlimited data tariff, but limiting it to the customers of one device isn't going to make things easier for customers to understand, or any fairer. ®

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