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O2 dumps unlimited data plans for iPhone 4 launch

UK mobile phone network O2 said it intends to stop offering unlimited data download plans to its smartphone users.

From 24 June, new smartphone subscribers will get a monthly download limit of 500MB to 1GB, depending on how much they pay for.

That date may be familiar to iPhone fans as it's the same day Apple launches its latest revision of the ubiquitous handset. Coincidence? We think not.

Many observers believe that O2's move was inevitable, as consumer demand for data-intensive smartphone applications has resulted in the overloading of mobile networks.

O2 reckons that, based on current usage patterns, 97 per cent of its smartphone customers would not need to buy additional data allowances, as the lowest bundle (500MB) provides at least 2.5 times the average O2 customer’s current use.

CEO Ronan Dunne said: "With the wide range of Internet based services now available on mobile devices we’re providing customers with generous clear data bundles that give customers freedom. This enables us to provide a better overall experience for the vast majority of customers and to better manage demand.”

It is estimated that the top three per cent of O2's 21 million subscribers use around 35 per cent of its data capacity.

Rumours are starting to emerge that Orange is also poised to scrap its unlimited tariffs, again on the same date as the iPhone launch, for new and upgrading punters.

Newcomer to the iPhone market 3 is the last major player to show its hand but we very much doubt it will go alone by offering uncapped 3G data.