TechRadar has spoken to O2 about the recent furore over the decision not to let consumers break current iPhone deals to move to the new iPhone 3GS, with the network pointing out users shouldn't get special treatment just for having an iPhone.
Speaking to Steve Alder, General Manager of Devices for O2 UK, he pointed out that it simply wasn't viable to let O2's iPhone customers upgrade early:
"Having subsidised much (or all - depending on tariff) of the price of a customer's iPhone 3G, we simply cannot justify invalidating that contract and subsidise a second device for the same customer.
"Much as we understand the desire of many customers to have the latest version, this would be a loss making deal for O2 and would be a distinct set of business terms for iPhone customers that don't apply to our other customers."
iPhone users are no different
"Contract and upgrade terms for iPhone are exactly the same as contract and upgrade terms for any other O2 device."
Alder also pointed to an early upgrade deal O2 also currently supports for all customers, although it's unlikely to satisfy most grumpy iPhone customers given that they won't be anywhere near six months left on their iPhone 3G contract, and even fewer still be spending the amount necessary (rumoured to be £75 plus per month) to qualify for the six month early upgrade break.
"All iPhone customers who spend more than £35 per month are eligible for earlier upgrade under our Priority List programme, the only early upgrade programme of its kind in our industry. Early upgrade is for 1-6 months depending on spend levels.We urge customers to call customer service to discuss their options."
The other main issue consumers are up in arms about is the sheer cost of tethering, which will now be available for iPhone users at a cost of £14.68 (for 3GB) or £29.36 (10GB) per month just to use data.
Alder pointed out that this was no different to O2's other tethering plans, so while they might be expensive iPhone users aren't being stung any differently to the rest of O2's customer base:
"The mobile broadband tariff for "tethering your iPhone to a computer" (effectively using it as a mobile broadband dongle for your computer) is the same price and value as our other mobile data tariffs," he added.
That response isn't likely to satisfy users who realise they can get far more data from the likes of 3 for the same price per month, but O2 is clearly hoping that it stops people thinking the network is using iPhone loyalty to scam more money from users.
Alder finished by stating that he hoped that iPhone 3.0 software was seen as the standout announcement from Apple, as it's something that can be enjoyed by both iPhone 3G and 3GS users:
"Unlike nearly every other device in the market, iPhone evolves and grows via software and service updates (plus iPhone apps). The vast majority of the new functions and benefits that Apple announced are related to the updated 3.0 software. We recommend all iPhone customers download this for free from June 17 and enjoy the new features."
While O2 has clearly been backed into something of PR corner by letting customers upgrade for free from 2G to 3G, the sheer level of criticism highlights how careful any network needs to be when dealing with Apple products.