O2: We didn't know we were capping 3G data speeds

It was just a PRovisioning error

O2 admitted today it has been capping speeds for its 3G customers, but claims that this is all down to a "provisioning error" rather than a deliberate policy of profiling its subscriber base.

This would all make more sense if it wasn't a clear reversal of the position it explained to us last week, when it rationalised its lower than industry standard speeds in terms of "user profiles", "industry norms" and "bandwidth allocations".

Apparently all that was just a bit of internal confusion. Whether it was trying to confuse us, their customers, or its own PR department, isn't clear - certainly it succeeded at all three.

To avoid any further misunderstanding, here is O2's latest statement in full:

The vast majority of our 3G customers are able to access the internet on their mobile device at speeds of up to 384 KBps or typically up to 1.3 MBps if they have an HSDPA-enabled device. The O2 network is fully HSDPA-enabled and we will be further increasing the maximum speeds available on HSDPA throughout the year, up to 7.2 MBps.

Because of a provisioning error, which came to our attention last week, a small proportion of our 3G customers have not been getting these higher speeds.

We apologise to those customers who were affected. The issue is simple to fix and we will be doing so this week. If customers still have problems after that, they should call O2 in the normal way.

We would assume the figures are intended to be in Kb/sec, not KB/sec (bits rather than bytes), but we're reluctant to assume anything at this point, so we present it verbatim.

Users of the XDA Developers forum did even better, with the above explanation being followed by the promise that O2 UK's Head of Technology Engineering would be along tomorrow to answer questions on the issue; whether he can explain why the company has so much trouble explaining the services it provides remains to be seen.

In theory, this announcement means that 02 is providing 3G speeds comparable to its competition, but that half the company was blissfully unaware of the fact. While it's hard to have confidence in a network that arbitrarily limits connection speeds, is it any easier to trust a company that can't get its story straight? ®

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