Alternatives to O2’s “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On” on iPhone Pay As You Go

February 20th, 2010

o2When you purchase an iPhone from O2 on Pay As You Go, you’ll get 12 months of “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On” included. This gives you “unlimited” access to the internet over 3G and BT Openzone hotspots. After the 12 months, O2 will automatically charge you £10 per month to keep the bolt-on active. As the iPhone is data-hungry, most people won’t want to lose their web/internet connection. However there are other ways to keep your internet connection active – many of which are better value.

Come to the end of your iPhone contract?

Note that this guide is for people who have had the iPhone on Pay As You Go for 12 months and are considering the alternatives to “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On”. If you are on iPhone Contract (Pay Monthly), see our article on your options at the end of your contract and O2’s secret £20/mo. Simplicity iPhone tariff.

Ok, I’m on iPhone PAYG. What are my options?

At a glance, the options are:

  • Keep the “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On” which costs £10/month
  • Switch to a 1-month SIM only contract with “unlimited” internet from £15/month
  • Switch down to the “Unlimited Web Bolt On” which costs £7.50/month
  • Switch to O2’s Text and Web tariff which gives free texts and internet for free when you top up £10/month
  • Switch to a different PAYG tariff – internet from free

We’ll discuss each of these options in turn.

Option 1: Keeping the “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On”

iPhone
Creative Commons License photo: William Hook

One thing to notice about the “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On” is that it is a psuedo-contract. It has all the hallmarks of a contract – you pay a given amount every month (£10/month) to get a set airtime allowance (“unlimited” web and wi-fi). It takes the money directly from your account (PAYG balance in this case) until you cancel it.

However, as a contract it offers pretty poor value for money. Firstly, the fair usage allowance is 200MB/month on the “Unlimited” web and wi-fi bolt on. For just a small amount more, it is often possible to find a SIM-only tariff offering a much larger data allowance as well as free texts and minutes.

O2 customers can opt out of this bolt on by texting WWWOFF to 21300 or calling 2425 from their O2 mobile.

Fair usage: 200MB per month

Option 2: Switch to a 1-month SIM only contract with “unlimited” internet

For £15/month (an extra £5/month over the O2 Bolt-on), it is possible to get a SIM only contract which comes with free minutes and texts as well as a more generous data allowance. This would seem to be much better value than the PAYG proposition with the bolt-on where you would still have to pay for calls & texts.

The idea of SIM-only tariffs could be alien to those coming from PAYG. Essentially they are contracts which only provide airtime allowance. They usually have 1-month rolling contracts so, like on PAYG, you aren’t tied in to any one provider and it’s dead easy to switch to someone else at a later date. See our guide on SIM-only tariffs for smartphones for more information.

iPhone transparent screen
Creative Commons License photo: edans

The cheapest SIM-only tariff with “unlimited” internet is 3’s £15/month SIM-only tariff. For £15/month, you’ll get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet. That’s an extra 800MB of internet allowance and 300 minutes of phone calls and all of your texts now included. Three also allow you to use Skype and Windows Live Messenger over their network.

Note that you will need to unlock your iPhone before you can use it on a different network. This is a one-off charge of £15 and you should recoup the costs fairly easily.

If you’re looking to stay on O2, they will offer you 800 minutes, 1600 texts and unlimited internet for £20/month.

Fair usage: 1GB per month (on Three)

Option 3: Switch down to O2’s “Unlimited Web Bolt On”

If you want to keep O2 Pay As You Go and your existing bolt on, you can save £2.50 per month by downgrading to the “Unlimited Web Bolt On”. It’s £7.50/month and you’ll still get 200MB of internet but you won’t get BT Openzone wi-fi hotspot access.

Fair usage: 200MB per month

Option 4: Switch to O2’s Text and Web tariff which gives free texts and internet for free when you top up

O2 have a Pay As You Go “Text and Web” tariff which offers 300 free texts and 500MB of free internet when you top up £10/month. Unlike when you use the bolt-on, you keep your £10 top-up so you can use it to spend on calls.

Bubbles
Creative Commons License photo: Jeff Kubina

You can also top up £15 for 600 free texts and 500MB of free internet; top up £30 for 12,000 texts and 500MB of free internet. Your free allowance lasts for one month.

Fair usage: 500MB per month

Option 5: Switch to a different PAYG tariff

There are a wealth of PAYG deals out on the market which you can access if you’ve unlocked your iPhone. Some networks will give you free internet with a top ups from just £5. See our guide to free mobile internet on Pay As You Go.

Fair usage: It depends.

Conclusions

The “Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi Bolt On” is a bad value proposition. It’s a psuedo-contract and it’s not even a good contract at that. Many customers will find it much better value to switch to a SIM-only contract which offers a much larger data allowance as well as free minutes and texts. SIM-only tariffs often cost just £5/month extra and offer a lot more. We recommend 3’s £15/month SIM-only tariff. For light phone users, it is also a no brainer to switch to Text and Web. Unlike with the bolt-on, the internet allowance is free so you’ll keep the £10 top up for phone calls.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 11 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Dave said:

    Just tryed the above and got a message back saying it will be processed in 48hrs and will send txt when completed

  2. Chris said:

    thanks for the help! I'm reaching the end of my 12 months PAYG on 02 but didn't want to pay £10 a month for internet. I tried calling 2425 and 2202 as they suggested in texts but this seemed like a dead end, I couldn't find any option allowing me to cancel my impending subscription. Anyway, texting WWWOFF to 21300 seems to have done the trick!

    1. Chris replied:

      as it turned out, I got a text back saying that this hadn't worked and so I called O2 on 2302 from the iPhone and they cancelled the impending bolt-on whilst I was on the phone, I hope this has worked!

  3. Dan said:

    Ken
    Thanks for some great and vital information on this page, very clear and so helpful
    Cheers

  4. moa said:

    Oh, stupid me, sorry 🙂

  5. moa said:

    So why you have not talked about this option?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Moa,

      This is Option 1 on the list! After the first 12 months, it costs £10/month to keep that bolt-on active. This page is discussing alternatives for once the 12 months has expired and how you can switch to cheaper alternatives.

      Ken

  6. moa said:

    You do not need to top up every month to get free internet on PAYG, I have an iphone and I topped up maybe twice in past 10 months and free internet was always there

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Moa,

      This is because iPhones purchased on PAYG come with a “Unlimited Web Bolt-On” which provides ultd internet for 12 months.

      Ken

  7. Mark said:

    Many thanks for this well researched and well written guide. Your hard work is much appreciated.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your kind words – I am glad that this guide has been of use to you! 🙂

      Ken

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