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Who Calculated these UMTS Tariffs?
Posted by Arne Hess - at Wednesday, 23.05.07 - 18:08:50 CET under Wireless - Mobile Networks - Viewed 10612x

It's not a secret that the carrier of my choice is O2 (Germany). Maybe it's because its innovative Genion product, maybe it's because I worked for O2's forerunner VIAG Interkom for 3 years, maybe it's just because I like the whole brand.
Anyway, as happy as I'm with O2 (Germany), as frustrated I was with O2's data tariffs. Even in the past, when I was the responsible product manager for VIAG Interkom's WAP service, I had some hard fights with Controlling to get the WAP tariffs in the Homezone reduced and it took ages until O2 reduced their GPRS and UMTS tariffs earlier this year. Therefore I signed a 24 month contract back in 2005 with E-Plus (another German GSM & UMTS carrier) for one simple reason: E-Plus was the first carrier in Germany which offered a true GPRS & UMTS flat rate. However, signing a second contract means you get a second SIM card and so on. I prefer to have everything under one contract especially because O2 offers a service called "MultiCard" which gives you up to 3 SIM cards under one mobile number (without any additional monthly fees). This means you can use one SIM in your mobile phone, one SIM in your Pocket PC and one SIM in your Notebook. While only one SIM gets incoming calls, all 3 SIM cards can be used for outgoing calls (but not in parallel) and - this is even more important - all the SIM cards can be used in parallel for data connections!
This means I can send a MMS from my mobile phone while I surf the O2 WAP pages the same time while I still stay connected with my Notebook to O2's UMTS network. That's indeed pretty handy and smart!

Therefore I was even happier when O2 reduced its monthly data pack fees earlier this year - as said since I thought to cancel my E-Plus contract after the 24 month to switch back to O2 for my data. Before, I roughly paid 10 Euro per month for 20 MB and now I pay the same price for 200 MB. If I'm going to cancel my E-Plus subscription, I will upgrade my current 200 MB plan to the 5 GB plan which is available for 25 Euro (and I will save 49 Euro per month I'm currently paying at E-Plus). Not to bad at all but what happens if you reach the included volume?
At E-Plus, I don't have any limits and I can use as much as I need (which is pretty handy for place-shifting TV for example). Unfortunately E-Plus isn't offering HSDPA at the moment and for web surfing, they use a network compression which reduces the image quality. Something I cannot accept, especially if I have to work mobile. On the other hand, E-Plus offers Hot- or at least Warm-Billing. If I login to my account, I can see how much data each session consumed and how much data I used for the current month.

O2 is offering HSDPA (at least in some areas) and isn't compressing pictures - so it's another good reason for me to switch to them. However, all O2 data packs have a limit (either 200 MB or 5 GB) and after you are charged per consumed MB again. If I do some math now, I wonder who has calculated the tariffs:

200 MB = 10 Euro = 0,05 Euro per MB
5000 MB = 25 Euro = 0,005 Euro per MB

So far so good and definitely a fair deal. However, if you use more than the 200 MB/5 GB, O2 charges you 0,50 Euro per additional MB! Shouldn't it be something like 0,05 Euro/0,005 Euro or in worst case 0,10 Euro/0,01 Euro? But it's 10/100 time more than the price per included MB:

Sorry O2 - you know I like you but this is a freaking rip-off and I see no reason why an additional MB have to be charged 10/100 times higher than the included MB?

Unfortunately this isn't the only problem. While 5 GB are pretty good at all - I hardly came over it with my E-Plus subscription - O2 is neither offering Hot- nor Warm-Billing. This means I cannot verify how much volume I've consumed per month already but I have to await the next invoice! That's not funny at all, if you keep in mind that watching one minute place-shifted TV consumes something between 1 and 1.5 MB (depending on the quality and bandwidth). So every additional minute costs me 50 to 75 Cent? Well, that's heavy and I better let my Slingbox off. Or I have to stay with E-Plus.
Unfortunately O2 isn't offering a fair-flat policy, like T-Mobile or Vodafone Germany who aren't charging any additional volume if you reach it one month only but stay within your limit the next month again. O2 is charging the additional price - from the 201st MB/50001st MB.

Okay, note to myself: "Never do such frustrating mathematics again or better do it again before you definitely switch away from E-Plus to another carrier."

Cheers ~ Arne

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