The operator O2 has defended its heavy data charges for those users who go over their mobile-broadband bundle limits, arguing that the fees act as a 'deterrent' to those who might want to download excessive amounts through their 3G dongles.
On Wednesday, the price-comparison site Moneysupermarket.com issued a statement in which it pointed out that O2 charges 20p per megabyte -- or £200 per gigabyte -- to those who go over their 3GB-per-month bundle limit. Rival operator 3 also charges what works out at £100 per gigabyte for those going over its bundle limits.
"3GB per month is roughly equivalent to a few hours of surfing per week, downloading three music tracks a week, watching two hours of video a week (YouTube/iPlayer), downloading one film a month and spending a few hours a week on Skype," James Parker, the site's manager of mobiles and broadband, said in the statement. "You'd only need to double that usage to find yourself with a £600 bill from O2."
"The most important thing is to know what type of user you are. Dongles with higher limits are available for heavier users that can safeguard against exceeding the limit, but an unlimited fixed-line package is the safer option for those planning to download a lot," Parker said.
A spokesperson for O2 told CNET UK sister site ZDNet UK on Wednesday that the operator's heavy out-of-bundle charges were "set as a deterrent to stop customers from going over their limit".
"Very few of our customers ever go over the bundle," the spokesperson said. "We don't want our customers to have their experience deteriorated by those few customers who are using it to excess, so there are a number of mechanisms that we put in place to ensure that our customers don't go over their allocated limit each month".
These mechanisms include notifications issued to the user through O2's Connection Manager software, and text messages sent once certain usage thresholds have been crossed.
"We give the customer every opportunity to be aware of how much they're using, and they can upgrade their package at any time," the spokesperson said. "Thereafter, it's up to them how much they use."