When the recent iOS 4.3 update brought the personal hotspot feature to iPhone users in the UK, those on O2 discovered they'd have to add a separate Internet tethering bolt-on to use it -- for example, to piggyback on their phone's connection with a Wi-Fi iPad 2.
It wasn't a new thing -- O2 already offered this tethering bolt-on for people physically tethering their iPads to their iPhones. Thankfully, the operator has announced new tariffs that ditch the policy.
Internet tethering is now included in O2's data allowances, so does not have to be paid for separately as a bolt-on. It's part of a wider shakeup of O2's pay monthly tariffs, which affect both new and upgrading customers.
The key change: you now start by choosing a basic tariff with a certain number of voice-call minutes and texts, before picking a single data allowance. The Basics deal costs £3 per month and gives you 100MB of data, the All Rounder gives 500MB for £6, and The Works costs a tenner for 1GB of data. The last two both include unlimited access to O2's network of Wi-Fi hotspots.
What if you need more data than 1GB a month, though? That's where bolt-ons come back into play, as you can pay another £6 for a 500MB top-up, or £10 for 1GB. If you don't top up, O2 says your connection "will be slowed until your next bill date".
In a separate move, O2 has launched shorter 12-month plans, bucking the trend of signing people up for 18- or 24-month contracts -- a good move, given the rapid pace of innovation in smart phones at the moment. These 12-month tariffs are only available for upgrading customers, though, starting at £15.50 per month for 50 minutes and 250 texts, plus one of the new data options.