UK iPhone 3GS calling plans on Orange and Vodafone

With both Orange and Vodafone getting the iPhone 3GS within the next three months, I've been researching into what plans these operators are likely to offer in terms of texts, minutes and more importantly web and wifi.

Pay as you go customers on o2 can currently purchase their phone for £440.40 for the 16GB iPhone 3GS model. They then get "unlimited" web and wifi for 12 months (worth £120) - that is "unlimited" wifi at Cloud hotspots and "unlimited" 3G usage but apparently you aren't allowed "continuous streaming of audio/video content" according to O2 themselves. They have also in the past implemented a measly 200MB per month cap on their "unlimited" plan. After the 12 months it is £10 per month for Web and Wifi or just £7.50 for just the Web portion. If you top up £15 you can also be on a plan where you get 100 minutes and texts. So for £15 a month you get "unlimited" web and wifi + 100 texts + 100 minutes + £15 credit. Not too shabby. After the 12 months you'll only have £7.50 credit per month which still is very cheap - just £15 a month for an iPhone. 18 months would therefore cost you £710.40 with £225 worth of credit and unlimited Web and a hundred minutes and a hundred texts.
It have heard that this Web + Wifi promotion will be ending on the 31st October 2009.

Pay monthly customers get the iPhone for a highly subsidised price of just under £185 on the cheapest plan for the 16GB 3GS, then for £30 a month you get 125 texts and 75 minutes. After 18 months you'll have spend £725 and have no credit to use for other things. Doesn't seem like such a good deal now does it?

Orange boasts that it has the largest 2.5G/3G network in the UK which should be good for consumers. I checked the signal in area I would use 3G the most and it the reception does seem to be the strongest. Orange will have to do something to lure O2 customers off it's network - whether that is offering the iPhone with free Web at higher speeds, more minutes and texts for customers, or the iPhone for lower subsidised prices and for lower pay as you go prices. Perhaps the cheapest plan with 100 minutes and unlimited texts might do the trick. Currently on Pay As You Go a £10 top up gets free music and 300 texts.

Vodafone doesn't have the best network and will only be getting the phone last of the big three, so what can they do? I can only see two more options: to further reduce prices or just count on their existing customer base. This could fuel a war where the prices for the phones may be free on the cheapest plans or close to it as well as many more minutes for your monthly amount. What can be said as that the current O2 plan is a pretty good deal already, so the competition will need to work hard.

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