O2 + 3g iPhone tethering = rubbish.

I moved house a month or so ago. Unfortunately, there was no phone line at all in my new place, and much as I don’t use the phone, I do use the Internet. A lot.
I requested a phone line from BT, but it was going to be 7-10 days. What was I to do?

While I own an iPhone, living with just that, and only on 3g, was going to be awkward.
Browsing the web to look for furniture for my place on a tiny screen, wasn’t going to be that easy.
Then I remembered that you can now tether an iPhone to any computer, and connect your computer to the Internet through the phone. Brilliant!

I’ve done it before, back in pre-3g days, and it was painfully slow.
Pre-3g, it was considerably slower than a dialup modem.

Surely it’s improved to insane levels these days though?
There are adverts suggesting that mobile broadband could practically replace a home broadband line.
I live 2miles from the centre of a city, so have 3g reception all the time too. My luck should be in.

Sadly, despite me being on an iPhone plan with o2 with what is known as “unlimited data” inclusive, this does not include anything used while the iPhone is tethered to a computer. There’s an additional charge for that.
Really, it’s deeply unfair.
Downloading a song to my computer while it’s tethered to my iPhone costs additional money, but downloading the same song to my iPhone doesn’t. Rubbish, eh?

When tethering was first announced, I slated the overpriced nature of this.
It was £35 a month for an iPhone plan on o2, with unlimited data on the phone, but no way to connect it to a computer.
Suddenly the option to connect it to a computer was possible, but at what cost? £10 a month, for “up to” 3gb of transfer downloaded to said computer. £3.33(ish) per gb is insanely expensive really.
I wasn’t going to be watching the iPlayer, or downloading music – that’s for sure.

I ordered the o2 tethering bolt-on, via o2’s website.
For some reason, there is a 24 hour wait for this.
I excitedly waited 24 hours, off-net, to be reconnected.
24 hours came and went. I gave them about 30, then phoned them up.
Order? What order? You never got it?
They can put it through now, but it’ll take another 24 hours though. Rubbish.
I only need it for 10 days, and I’ve wasted 2 already just trying to get them to provide me with the bloody service.
They’ll apparently email me instructions of how to set it up.

Another 24 hours later, it was finally working.
o2 never sent me the instructional email, nor even a text to confirm it was working. I figured it all out by fiddling with settings, using Google, and checking it every hour.
Right at the start, I was petrified I might go over my 3gb allowance and face the wrath of even more additional charges, so I disabled photos, java and Flash in Safari and Firefox.

Is it lightning quick?
Can it replace home landline broadband?
Not a chance.
Is it the only option I have, and do o2 know it?
Double yes.

It isn’t usable long term. Not at all.
There I am on the Internet, updating my Twitter status, when my sister phones me.
I answer without thinking.
My Internet connection dies.

This was an ongoing theme throughout the following 7-or-so days.

The highpoint of this was making a change via my online banking.
My bank has a system for some changes where their asks you for a pin code. Then the bank phones you to tell you the pin code, and you enter the code from the phone, back into the site.
So my bank phones me to confirm I’m not a phisher who has stolen Ben Park’s bank details.
I answer, and they give me a code to put back in on their banking site.
In answering, it’s disconnected me from the net.
First time I enter the code, I get a “page cannot be displayed”.
I remember I’m probably disconnected, and attempt to reconnect.
Then I lose all 3g signal.
5mins later and a phone reboot, I finally complete the system.

Over the next few days, the 3g signal is neither a consistent speed, and sometimes it disappears altogether.
I get my phone landline and broadband installed on the specified date, and put a note in my diary to cancel this mobile broadband in a few days before the month is up.

The first time I call, all seems well. They cancel it. No further charges for me.
10 days later, I get a bill from o2, who have charged me for the service for another month, despite me cancelling it. It’s only £10, but on principal I don’t pay for services I don’t want/use.
I call them and speak to someone who tells me that they’ll just update my direct debit amount, to take the correct amount I actually owe them. Good work.
As half of o2’s computers are down at the moment, she advises I call back in a couple of days to make sure that they’ve got all the information correct.

Monday morning on the 8th March, I phone back, and get offered a completely different solution.
It turns out they can’t adjust the Direct Debit amount at all, so what they’ll do is take the extra £10 this month, and credit back to me the month after.
Not the greatest outcome, but it’ll do. I don’t really appreciate paying for their fuck-up though.

10 days later I receive a shitty text from o2, telling me I haven’t paid my bill this month, and to make payment immediately.
After verifying they definitely haven’t take it from my bank, I phoned them to find that rather than just adjusting the Direct Debit, they’ve cancelled it altogether. I manually pay the bill over the phone, and casually check about this £10 credit while I’m on.
£10 credit? What £10 credit?

She said she’d apply it but it might take 24 hours (as everything seems to, at o2) before I can see it.
Just checked, and it seems it has been applied, although my bill is still wrong. It’s a step in the right direction I guess.

Before hanging up, they did try an up-sell.
Do I have broadband at home?
I explained I do, it’s with another company, and for the next 12 months.
Apparently I should definitely consider o2, when my contract is up.
I’ll certainly keep that in mind, because they provide such a reliable 3g connection, with such brilliant customer service.

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