Rory Cellan-Jones

Can O2 cope with smartphone traffic?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 7 Jul 09, 14:40 GMT

It's been announced today that O2 has won the exclusive contract to sell the new Palm Pre in Britain.

Palm Pre smartphoneThat means it will be the only UK network selling what many regard as the two smartest phones on the market right now, the Pre and Apple's iPhone.

So congratulations to O2 - but just a little question. Is your network really good enough to cope with the flood of data?

Because the whole point of both phones is that users will be doing far more than just talking and texting - they will be online all of the time making the most of their unlimited data packages built into the pricey contracts you will be selling them.

iPhone users have already shown a far greater appetite for data than owners of just about any other phone - surfing the web more, uploading far more pictures to Flickr, and of course using all those online apps they've installed on their phones.

And the advent of the iPhone 3Gs has only accelerated that trend, with Google reporting that uploads to YouTube from a mobile soared by 400% in the days after the launch of the first video-capable iPhone.

But if my experience is anything to go by, users of either of these phones may hit heavy traffic on the web as they try to surf, download and share information and pictures online.

O2 tells me that users on its 3G data network experience speeds "up to 3.6Mbps" and says it has begun rollout of "up to 7.2Mbps". The company says it has good coverage across most of the UK, with built-up areas obviously doing better.

I've been testing those claims using a handy little application called Speed Test - which does what it says on the tin. Over the past month I've done a series of tests on an iPhone, all of them in the London area, where you'd expect to get a pretty good signal.

I did once get a download speed of 1.7Mbps, but in most cases the speeds were below 1Mbps, and quite frequently, the 3G network just didn't appear to be there at all.

screengrab of SpeedtestThe picture on the right shows a test conducted by the window of my office in West London - as you can see, the phone is apparently downloading at just 27Kbps and uploading at....well, 0.

If I'd wanted to send some video to YouTube, I would have had a long and fruitless wait - and the phone's battery would have given out long before I'd uploaded.

Mobile reception in or near buildings can be problematic, but on my morning walk with the dog near my home, I've noticed that the 3G network evaporates altogether when I get to the park.

I called 02, and the company confirmed that there was a small hole in the network in the place I described. The firm said it really needed to upgrade a nearby phone mast - but was wary of the reaction from residents who'd protested before about 3G masts.

I do feel some sympathy for phone networks, besieged on the one hand by geeks like me demanding better service - and on the other by campaigners fearful that phone masts could in some way pose a danger to health. And O2 is no different from the other networks in making somewhat fanciful claims about the speeds that can be achieved by mobile broadband customers.

But if mobile networks are going to become one of the key routes to the internet for million of users, they're going to need to build more six-lane highways to replace those B-roads where the traffic keeps getting stuck.

Update, 10:43, 8 July: This morning Ofcom has published a report on the state of 3G coverage in the UK, and the growing importance of mobile broadband to consumers.

It includes maps of each network's 3G coverage [668KB PDF]. And it has to be said that O2's coverage looks pretty thin compared to other networks, with 3 in particular looking as though it reaches far more places across the UK.


  • Comment number 1.

    3Gs or 3G S?

    I find it very strange that O2 are willing to offer these two phones, but not the N97... *sigh*

  • Comment number 2.

    I came from a rival network to O2 to specifically get the iPhone 3G and quickly found that the O2 3G network coverage is nowhere close to that suggested by their coverage map. You were lucky in getting a 'reasonable' reply to your enquiry about network expansion. I've had the phone for 4 months now and it is without doubt the best phone I have owned, but wherever I go I have to rely on WiFi or 2G connections and only very very occasionally 3G! (My wife's Nokia suffers identically with the lack of 3G so it is not my phone).
    I am staggered that Apple has not broken the exclusivity contact on the basis of poor 3G coverage, and I am equally amazed that Palm are going with O2 for the same reason. I just hope that the tie-up with Vodafone helps to fill in the gaps in coverage, or Apple unlock the phones to any network.

  • Comment number 3.

    That's a bit of a swine. I was hoping for some healthy competition so they'd have to up their service. I find 3G drops out all over the place. London is much worse than Ireland, I presume because of higher contention for their limited service.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good blog post Rory. I work in the City and live in SE5. I never get more than 800kbps down on my iPhone; 4-500 is more common but there's little consistency.

    I frequently get voicemails when the phone hasn't rung; dropped calls, just the Edge network rather than 3G etc - and it's starting to get annoying.

  • Comment number 5.

    I use a (factory) unlocked iPhone 3G on Vodafone. I usually get 0.9Mbps on 3G but that's through Voda's new Access Gateway device. Perhaps O2 should copy - surely the perfect way for the carrier to fill 3G holes is to get the customer to pay the cost of the base station.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with your report but I moved from another [well known] network to O2 to get a more sophisticated handset and the service has nevertheless been an improvement. O2 may have problems but talking to friends on other networks it seems only one other network seems to be (arguably) slightly better at 3G data.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't care what O2 might 'claim' regarding bandwidth issues, since its largely bull...

    Firstly, if they have the infrastructure to endlessly push their wireless 3G dongles & associated expensive contracts, then surely they have suitable 3G capacity for smartphones too - the huge money they're making should cover any expansion.

    Secondly, why would local environmental groups be opposed to 3G upgrades for existing masts? Surely they just don't want MORE masts, something the 3G upgrades might well alleviate.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good post, agree with all of what is said, maybe we should all run Speed Test where we live and build up some real world coverage data

  • Comment number 9.

    Luckily i find that i have 3 masts at the back of my house in the water board premises/wooded area. According to the data on the masts, they actually serve the 5 main networks, so it works out that i get a great signal in the house, and 3G signal all the time (although in the house my iPhone is connected to WiFi)

    turns out there are masts all over the town i live so i get a 3G signal all over the place. it's suprising that London doesn't have great coverage considering i live in a tiny town on the east coast.

    website where you can find the location of local masts, finding by street, postcode or town.

  • Comment number 10.

    o2's network coverage is based on nothing but complete and utter fantasy. They should be held to account by OfCom and made to change the way in which they advertise there network speeds and coverage.

    I have been on o2 for 4 years now, 3 of which they were amazing. Good coverage and quick and reliable 3G coverage. Now the contention ratio has gone through the roof, for the last few months I have had so many missed and dropped calls and an absolutely Pathetic 3G coverage and speed, if any at all.

    Most the time the network resorts to EDGE and even that sometimes fails, and that's in central London. Sure, the network works really well (although no-where near as fast as advertised) in quiet times, say between 1-5 AM. But all other times it's just shocking.

    I've had enough, things are only going to get worse considering Telefonica now have exclusives on so many phones - and all those people will be tied in to huge contracts. They say that they will be rolling out 'even faster 7.2Mbs HSDPA soon' Who cares when you haven't even got the basic 3G coverage sorted yet!

    And they all wonder why big companies go from boom to bust so often. Sadly I don't think that any of the other networks have a different outlook to o2 - make as much money as possible with as little outlay as possible & only spend on the network the bear minimum required to keep the shareholders happy.

    Time to dig that old CB radio out!

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like to see good smart phones spread around the networks not just O2. Hopefully smart phones will become the standard for all users soon to get over the integration issues of different handsets and operators
    The big question though - given the Digital Britain report - is that for now mobile is a small peak to the internet iceberg but that situation will soon be inverted according to many forecasts. It doesnt seem we are even close to being able to meet the demand of ubiquitous mobile internet.
    Its not just technorati and business people who will use it EVERYONE and EVERYTHING will use mobile from people digging holes in the road to environment monitoring sensors.

  • Comment number 12.

    In London I virtually always get 3G coverage from o2, but the speed is very poor.

    Things really stood out on a recent holiday to Iceland. While roaming, I was able to synchronise over a hundred emails with a London host server in about 5 seconds. Back home on o2, that would take at least 2 minutes.

  • Comment number 13.

    I live in Dorset and I've used the speed test a number of times on my iPhone and generally the speed is between 700kbps-2Mbps. I have rarely experienced issues with dropouts throughout the entire area, and sometimes the 3G works where my mobile signal doesn't. It's an absolute necessity for me now and I now wonder how I lived without it...

    I do however work in IT support and we have a contract with a rival company who's 3G coverage appears to be non-existant in this area and many others.

    I guess it really is luck of the draw.

  • Comment number 14.

    Today Ofcom published 3G coverage maps - as you can see at the link below, O2 has much poorer coverage across the UK than other mobile operators. If you want proper 3G coverage on a mobile than don't get an iPhone or Pre from O2 but go with one of the other operators instead.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 15.

    Just moved from T-Mobile to 02, and disappointed with the 3G coverage.

  • Comment number 16.

    Here's the link to Ofcom's coverage maps:

  • Comment number 17.

    Unfortunately with 3G, thats the nature of the beast. Its based on CDMA, the theory being that many people can connect on the same frequency range, download what they need fast, and then free up the bandwidth for someone else. Problem is, the net has changed so much since its conception that 3G cant cope in highly populated areas. Streaming videos/music is a great example of this, as it just wasn't predicted to be so popular on mobile devices.
    We are going to need either more frequencies to be assigned for mobile communications or some Einstein like character to invent something new.

  • Comment number 18.

    o2 doesn't have the network sharing agreements that the other 4 UK providers benefit from

    There are so many gaps in quality data coverage that it's not for off unusable outside of city's and large towns.

    Not only do they not have sharing agreements with other networks, but coverage is actually the weakest of the 5.

    Poor show Apple & Palm for going with weakest network for data intensive products.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rory Cellan-Jones writes "It's been announced today that O2 has won the exclusive contract .."

    is this allowed? sounds like a monopoly, I thought there were laws...

    I'm all with drmarkwright (#11) on this issue.

  • Comment number 20.

    "Good blog post Rory. I work in the City and live in SE5. I never get more than 800kbps down on my iPhone; 4-500 is more common but there's little consistency.

    I frequently get voicemails when the phone hasn't rung; dropped calls, just the Edge network rather than 3G etc - and it's starting to get annoying."


    So move to another service provider. Oh wait you've got an iPhone so you can't, roflmao.

    Perhaps now people are starting to see the flaw in the iPhone/O2 contract, when it all starts going bad, which it is now with so many people signing up for their contract, you can't change providers and you're left with no option than to endure a bad service.

    The Palm Pre will suffer from the exact same bad service as well. 02 not only has iPhone data and now Pre data to contend with but they also have BlackBerry smatphones on their network as well, and from using one as part of my job (I work for a BlackBerry reseller and BES support company) I can safely say the problem isn't only restricted to the iPhone, I'm just glad I don't use it as much as I would if it were my personal phone.

    Mobile phone companies, as well as traditional ISPs cannot handle the traffic because they will not and have not invested in the infrastructure to do so.

    Until they stop taking peoples money and running for the hills, or people wise up and realise that's what they are doing (which from the uptake of the iPhone I doubt will happen), we won't ever get an infrastructure that can handle the traffic.

    The problem is the same problem that is already evident in ordinary landline data - lack of investment.

    Kinda the same story all round in this country...

    Oh BTW Rory nice to see a blog that isn't entirely about Apple for a change.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Rory Cellan-Jones writes "It's been announced today that O2 has won the exclusive contract .."

    is this allowed? sounds like a monopoly, I thought there were laws..."


    No apparently those laws were changed shortly before O2 got the iPhone contract. Rather conveniently...

  • Comment number 22.

    'I do feel some sympathy for phone networks, besieged on the one hand by geeks like me demanding better service - and on the other by campaigners fearful that phone masts could in some way pose a danger to health, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that they do not.'

    There you go, fixed that for you. :)

  • Comment number 23.

    See that white gap on the Gower peninsula? That's me that is. The strange thing is the gap appears on most maps yet I get a strong Vodaphone signal and no O2 signal. Gower is full of potential smart phone owners (media and business types) yet has massive gaps in coverage. We got broadband very late too. Still, small price to pay for living there ...

  • Comment number 24.

    Interesting article Rory. Note I am being nice I feel like I have been doing nothing but complaining to you about things over the last few weeks. Still you had forgotten about the world outside Apple for a while.

    It is interesting to note that O2 seem to be on the brink of winning some more smartphones too. I wonder how they will cope with even more new smartphone traffic.

    O2 seem to be winning every exclusive contract there is going at the moment. How on earth are they managing to do it? Oh well.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nearly 2 years ago an MP proposed a Bill that would force all our mobile operators to share masts to ensure that all users, regardless of mobile network, had the best possible coverage. This is the situation in all other EU countries where roaming is the norm, and at no extra cost.

    It is a simple solution that solves the poor signal problem and stops the building of more masts un-necessarily.

    The Bill died but Rory would do well if he could expose the situation and get industry insiders to comment.

  • Comment number 26.

    As a current user of both 3 and O2 I can say that without a doubt, 3 has the better 3G coverage in the UK. But O2 provides a more consistent and reliable coverage for traditional phone calls including international roaming.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have just checked the Ofcom 3G coverage maps (link in post above) and this confirms what I had already posted, O2 3G is shocking, 3 is much better.
    Why did Apple force me to leave the 3 network (where I had a Nokia phone which was too slow for 3G use) to go to O2 where the iPhone is well capable, but the network isn't.
    Rory, please use your influence to help us get a cross network roaming agreement. It'll make us consumers real happy and save the environment from more 'duplicate' masts.

  • Comment number 28.

    I've had a Samsung Smartphone since before the first iPhone came out, and with each revision the iPhone is gradually shaping up to becoming a potential competitor. However the fact that it's permanently locked to O2 is a massive drawback for me. I prefer to buy my handset seperately (unlocked, naturally) and then buy a 'SIM-only' product from a network. This way I get a much wider choice of handset, and I can move networks at the drop of a hat when my current network messes something up simply by replacing my SIM, which is the reason I moved from O2 to a popular competitor just over a year ago. I was quite disappointed by the news that the Palm Pre will only be available on O2 because until then I was actually considering buying one. Hopefully handset manufacturers will eventually learn that by taking away their users' choice of network provider they're losing quite a lot of potential customers.

    For those interested - it is possible to buy an unlocked iPhone from France, but be prepared to pay obscene amounts of cash for it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why did Palm do this? I still can't fathom out why Apple chose O2, but given the comments about their network this beggars belief!

    I used to be on O2 when it was cellnet and found I couldn't get a service when I moved house so I switched to t-mobile and have never looked back. Recently I was given an iPhone for a contract I'm on, the phone is great but the O2 service is appalling - everywhere. I've used Macs since 1984, bought Netwons, iPods and almost everything they've made - except for an iPhone because of O2. I'm not into jailbreaking so I'm sticking with the N95 on t-mobile and a nice widescreen ipod(phone)

  • Comment number 30.

    3 have a decent network and the faster 7mbs speeds, but their Phones and Customer service are very poor. Their web access also blocks lots of sites, directing you instead to their paid content.

    O2 have great customer service, but poor 3G data coverage and speeds.

    I guess both companies have been focusing on one area of their business while heavily skimping on the others.

  • Comment number 31.

    We need to remember that any mobile network (the radio part) is only as good as it's back haul component. Whether you're a 3, Vodafone or O2 customer, you will all be sharing some or part of the national back haul infrastructure supplied by BT Wholesale to it's mobile vendors. In turn this is supported by Openreach.

    The problem we all face is that the mobile back haul network was created to support mobile phones (voice calls) not huge chunks of data. Yes you're dongles light may turn blue indicating you have full 3G bandwidth of HSUPA at 7.2mbps, but it's highly unlikely that you'll actually see that sort of bandwidth until the mobile operators join the super fast broadband race. Most mobile base stations in this country are supported by traditional E1 circuits at 2mbps and those are shared with all users on that base station.

    So come on Rory, do a report on the lack of investment by mobile operators in their infrastructures. I strongly believe they have ripped off the UK public and should be revealed for miss selling 3G Broadband. If I bought a car from BMW and they claimed it delivered 130bhp then I'd expect it to. If O2 or Vodafone supply a dongle that supports 7.2mbps then why does it only deliver that in Slough or Newbury? A BMW doesn't just deliver 130bhp in Germany...

    The mobile operators sold millions of dongles last year, so they must have the revenue to invest. If not why not...

  • Comment number 32.

    Mobile operators have been going around promising us that we can buy mobile broadband and get fast speeds and use them anywhere. That clearly is not the case. It's mis-selling on a massive scale.

    And until iPhones are available on a network with proper UK coverage I am never getting an iPhone...

  • Comment number 33.

    What a silly article!

    First why would Apple or Palm offer O2 these lush devices if they did not have the best network possible to support there products!

    Its just crazy to think that Apple especially would offer the Iphone to a company that could not make the most out of the device

    Secondly in my experience the Iphone is fast and the network has been great, I think if you understand that speed of the network is linked to numerous factors such as how many 3G users are in the surrounding area and how far you are from a 3G transmitter then you start to understand that its not black and white

    I applaud O2 for having the balls to upgrade there network and roll out devices that people love!

    Although I am a fan of O2....Thats my 10pence worth

  • Comment number 34.

    @ stuartgoble
    Maybe if they stopped paying out some much on smart phone subsidies/exclusive deals they could afford the infrastructure to enable them to operate at full speed.

  • Comment number 35.

    Just downloaded a speed test app for my iphone 3g - here in The City I get a massive 29k download / 3 k upload (without 3g) and with 3g a megatastic 39k/16k - what a load of tosh.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to say that I adore my iPhone, however I really dislike O2's network performance. I am based in Croydon, and I work just off Oxford street in central London, and trying to use 3G, is totally hopeless. At my desk, I have no 3G, only Edge, which is the same around a lot of the centre of London. During my journey into work I have little or no data availability, and in fact often the phone shows "no service" even opening an email or trying to respond, is a frustrating event. I really wish that O2 cared enough to improve the network performance, I have been a very frustrated O2 customer for over a year, they have been promising improvements since the first day, however, for me, nothing has improved at all, I have very serious concerns about staying with O2; I just hope that another Service Provider gets the chance to offer the iPhone. Currently its saddening that the best phones are only available on one of the worst networks I have experienced; I have been a mobile phone user for 18 years, and O2 are by far the worst. I would love to upgrade to the newer faster iPhone 3Gs, but not on the O2 Network, with the poor performance and their money grabbing attitude. Please Apple, listen and allow this ridiculous monolopy of your beautiful product to end :)

  • Comment number 37.

    Rory, glad to hear you've done an extensive test in the area that matters most - London. Oh how us poor creatures out with the metropolis can only wish we had such coverage.

    Look to Wales or Scotland and you see shocking coverage where even main conurbations or arterial roads are not covered.

    But extending this still further, why are these more rural areas important? Why, because they are the same areas where it is prohibitively expensive to provide physical broadband infrastructure to each house and where many people still have to rely on dial up due to distance from the exchange. 3G in these areas would provide a real opportunity to provide a 'lower cost' improvement to overall speed of access to the internet. Please take the opportunity to consider the wider community outside metropolitan conurbations where it is more than a mere inconvenience not to have full 3G coverage whilst walking in the park.

  • Comment number 38.

    £G coverage in Ireland? You're having a laugh!

    I spend a fair bit of time between London, the west of Ireland (Donegal, Sligo and Letrim) and Northerne Ireland (Enniskillen etc). Where you do pick up 3, in Ireland (the island of), you do not get 3G, but the inferior 2G version. That is despite Hutchison employees telling you the complete opposite every time you try to ask them why their claims are so inaccurate.

    Or is it time to jump ship again after suffering repeated untruths from mobile phone companies due to their failure to provide a connected service, whilst reducing roaming charges, and all the other false promises??

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm almost certain O2 don't have the capacity to handle more smartphone devices. Even in the centre of London I find web speeds to be very poor, which I blame on O2's transparent proxy that reduces image quality in web pages to save them bandwidth. I find 3G web browsing no faster than using an EDGE connection on their network. YouTube speeds are noticeably faster on 3G though as they don't go through O2's proxy.

    Elsewhere in the country, you're lucky to find EDGE in town centres and where there is 3G it's very unreliable. Ofcom's O2 3G map is full of lies, their coverage is much lower than that, I've been to areas they've marked as having 3G and I know they have no 3G signal whatsoever.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sadly, it seems that O2 really does have poor coverage, although they aren't alone, especially in the provinces. Three tell me that I should get 3G at my postcode in Bridgnorth. Sadly, their 3 Connect software tells me that I have no signal...

  • Comment number 41.

    Rory - In my opinion you need to make the most of your position and start asking the people that matter some pertinent questions. Shouldn't people be concerned that these phone exclusivity deals are in fact doing nothing for the consumer except ensuring that there's simply no freedom of choice in the mobile market as regards networks / handsets? - It would appear that the only people benefiting from these deals are the companies themselves. The regulators seem to be cocking a deaf'un to the consumer as is usually the case - Ofcom seem to be in bed with the mobile operators and I ask you to give them a wake up call! - the fact that they seem unwilling to take action over the ludicrously inaccurate claims as regard speed and coverage from the mobile networks would seem to be evidence enough.

  • Comment number 42.

    Maybe O2 are spending the money they make from 3G dongles and tethering charges on winning exclusivity contracts rather than upgrading their network?

    What if the network infrastructure were publically owned and rented by the operators? I guess we're politically a long way from anything like that happening again...

  • Comment number 43.

    Mobile operators must ensure that masts are sensitively placed to avoid opposition. I am an iPhone user and passionate about mobile internet but I would not be particularly happy having a mast within 50 metres of my house. Having said that, given that there are now more active mobile connections in the UK than head of population, and that the vast majority of individuals own and use at least one mobile device, so long as masts are not placed too near homes/schools etc. I would regard opposition from most people (who are, by definition, mobile users) as sheer hypocracy.

  • Comment number 44.

    When 3G licences were awarded, the then Chancellor (some bloke called Gordon Brown) thought it would be a great idea to auction them to the highest bidders. The networks knew that NOT getting a 3G licence would be commercial suicide, so they bid large. Several billion pounds later, Gordon is very happy. However, the networks now had to find (or if they borrowed it, pay back) the vast amount of money they'd spent on their 3G licences, and then find even MORE millions of pounds to actually BUILD their 3G networks. It was around this time that, after ten years of static prices (falling in real terms) in the UK mobile industry, the price of monthly tarrifs increased quite dramatically as the networks desperately needed more cash coming in to pay for this huge investment. I believe that Gordon's auctions were a a significant contributory factor that led to the current lack of 3G coverage in the UK. Bet you can get 3G in Downing Street though!

  • Comment number 45.

    @hedley_lamarr - You can't receive voice calls whilst connected to the EDGE network. If anyone rings you while you're transferring data over EDGE, their call will go to voicemail. It's only on 3G that the data transfer will be interrupted, and the phone rings.

    So, when you're on EDGE, everything like web browsing, checking for mail, badly timed push notifications, etc make incoming calls go straight to voicemail.

    It's a massive pain in the behind...!

  • Comment number 46.

    In regards to mast sharing, thus cutting costs futher for the service provider while supposedly improving network coverage, o2 recently signed an agreement with Vodafone for this very scheme. Weather the two companies do actually improve service of just reap the rewards of lower costs is yet to be seen.

    The reason why O2 continue to obtain such esclusive agreements is not based on network coverage etc, more the "corporate image" they have. Being part of Telefonica put them under one of the largest telecomunication companies in the world and as I'm sure most of you are aware, image quite often takes over services.

    When push comes to shove, all these data services are great in theory, but like a lot of things in the business world, the idea is implamented before the infrastructure is put into place. And then, as some one else said, its too late to do any thing about it as your in a 24 month contract.

  • Comment number 47.

    @urbanleopard (#5)

    I use a (factory) unlocked iPhone 3G on Vodafone. I usually get 0.9Mbps on 3G but that's through Voda's new Access Gateway device. Perhaps O2 should copy - surely the perfect way for the carrier to fill 3G holes is to get the customer to pay the cost of the base station.

    Maybe I'm missing something but if we take it that adequate voice coverage is a given everywhere, then when you're at home why didn't you just connect your iPhone to your broadband internet connection via a wireless router?

    Surely it would have been cheaper to buy a wireless router rather than Vodafone's expensive femtocell kit which actually ends up rinsing your broadband connection anyway.

    I live in Greater London and according to o2 I should have full 3g coverage at home, however just like many others (if the above comments are anything to go by) my house seems to fall in a dead spot where there's no 3g coverage. o2 won't admit there's a problem but at least this way I get fast data and no missed calls and none of the Edge data problems that emeaaem mentions (#45).

    On a related note, whilst o2's 3g coverage and connection speeds are clearly nowhere near what they advertise them to be, o2 do at least include free access to both The Cloud and BT Openzone wifi hotspots and so far I've found these to be available in most town centres up and down the country (I travel the country a lot). Also as I understand it (and I may be wrong) wifi on the iPhone uses up a lot less of the precious un-swappable(!) battery than the 3g radio...

  • Comment number 48.

    Me again.

    Just downloaded the app mentioned above in Rory's post and did some comparative tests. Thought I'd share...

    iPhone 3gs on o2 (speeds in Mbps):
    Edge (5 bars signal strength in my house): down 0.07 up 0.02
    Wifi (2Mb Virgin Media cable over wireless g router): down 1.82 up 0.22
    3g (5 bars signal strength at the top of my road): down 1.87 up 0.28

  • Comment number 49.

    O2 are killing my iPhone battery! The signal strength in central London is so poor that my iPhone is constantly searching for a signal and rapidly drains the battery power. Ive phoned O2 and their response was that it might be down to the number of users in the area. What kind of answer is that? If they wanted the iPhone contract so bad then why didnt they anticipate that users would use it in the way Apple intended, as a mobile Internet device?
    Even when I am sitting at my desk the signal is switching between edge, 3G, or nothing. This did not happen when I used T-mobile, so for O2 to claim, were better connected is an absolute joke! We should report O2 to the Advertising Standards Authority for misrepresentation.

  • Comment number 50.

    Do you think that the more even spread of providers for smart phones such as the iPhone that is now occurring will help ease the traffic on the o2 network and spread the load?

    O2 still offer the best deal for moderate phone users, but the current state of O2 3G performance is simply unacceptable...

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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