O2 rebrand cock-up shock!

Just who do these pillocks think they're fooling?

First up is exciting news from the PR department (courtesy of MobileToday):

O2 is spending £5m refreshing its brand, which will include a change to the ‘it’s your O2 – see what you can do’ strapline introduced in May 2006, and made famous by Sean Bean’s unique delivery.

O2’s new brand brief that ‘a more connected world is a better world’ will be reflected in the new strapline ‘we’re better, connected’, although once again it will be delivered by Sean Bean.

The new brand was unveiled this week through a wide range of media advertising including TV, outdoor, cinema and online.

Sally Cowdry, marketing director for O2 UK said: ‘We’ve had incredible success with the O2 brand over the past six years, quickly establishing it as a leading UK brand.

‘But we need to keep the brand fresh, reflecting changing market conditions and customer priorities.

‘Customers are very much at the heart of our business but the role of O2 in their lives is changing. So our focus is now on empowering and enabling them to better connect to people and things that matter.’

Compare that with The Register's news that many (if not most) O2 customers on 3G tariffs don't even receive 3G speeds:
O2 has admitted its 3G customers are limited to 128Kb/s connections, with business users being automatically upgraded to 384Kb/s if they are deemed to warrant it.

3G connection speeds are highly variable, so establishing that the network has imposed a speed limit isn't as easy as it might appear, even though O2 users have long suspected they are being restricted.

384Kb/s is the technical limit of 3G technology, without resorting to HSPDA, but topping out at 128Kb/s is something of an embarrassment for a 3G network. Not that using HSDPA will help the O2 customer, depending on the "profile" O2 has decided to assign to them they might still find themselves allocated only 128Kb/sec.

O2 hasn't been able to explain how they decide who gets which profile, but they did give us a statement explaining that "O2 provides data speeds of 128Kb/s as standard to all 3G customers. Profiles of corporate customers who require higher speeds are modified so that they can benefit from speeds of 384Kb/s." With HSDPA the top speed should be even faster, assuming one is in the right profile group.

The network operator is quite careful on its website to describe 3G as a "high speed network" and makes no promises about specific connection speeds. In fact, the company tells us, 128Kb/s is all punters can expect from 3G, with 384Kb/se being a premium service only available to a select few.

Customers wanting the higher speed connection can, apparently, simply ask for it when they buy their phone, or give O2 a call - though the company declined to provide us with a suitable number or procedure for changing, or finding out, one's profile.

The competing operators we've spoken to don't offer such a tiered service. Once they had stopped laughing at O2's stance they all agreed that 3G should mean speeds of up to 384Kb/s for everyone, and that's what they provide, dependent on network coverage and local environment.

News of the limit should, however, be welcomed by iPhone users. They have been much derided for lacking high-speed 3G technology, while in reality their Edge connections could easily be out-performing O2's idea of what a 3G network is capable of.

Still, I'm sure a new strapline will make all the difference...

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