We’ve just received some exciting news for our UK readers from an O2 insider. It seems that O2 is really taking advantage of the 3G iPhone and giving their customers some real value. Unfortunately AT&T in the US doesn’t seem to be as aggressive with their plans.
- O2 in conjunction with BTOpenzone and The Cloud are creating a Wifi "wireless mesh network" across London and other UK metropolitan areas. The coverage is supposed to rival the coverage of cell phone towers. iPhone users should be able to use this network seamlessly. Also, O2 customers will be able to log into this mesh with their laptops or desktops.
- The 3G iPhone WILL allow Bluetooth Tethering for laptops. We asked about Wifi tethering and got a blank stare. We’ll take what we can get. They said that this was 99.9 percent certain and "Apple can always change their minds". Since O2 controls the network and costs involved the decision would largely be theirs.
- O2 will control everything network related on the iPhone (APN, etc.). Their settings will be on the iPhone you buy from the Apple Stores as well.
- O2 is EXTREMELY happy with the Apple partnership. They were in a fierce bidding war with Vodafone for the contract to carry the UK iPhone and the underdog. At the end they settled on giving Apple 15% of their iPhone revenues across the board (for Generation 1) which Vodafone declined. Had all things been equal, Apple would have gone with Vodafone because of their size and scale. Their take is that Vodafone is very sorry that they let the deal slip away. O2 is also happy to be associated with the Apple brand which is helping theirs climb up the ranks in the UK and the world.
- They will offer free iPhones (even 16Gb on their largest plan) with a plan and pay as you go iPhones but obviously they won’t be usable with other carriers as we stated yesterday.
Will AT&T and the other carriers follow O2’s lead? We can only hope!
Update: It does appear that there is a SIM card tray on the 3G iPhone though it isn’t as pronounced as before. Perhaps there was some miscommunication about "the hammer"…