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"Unlimited" iPhone data plans on T-Mobile, O2 and Orange not so unlimited

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Europeans are pretty used to paying through the nose for usage charges, whether it be by-the-minute charges for local calls in the landline days of yore, or per-KB charges for wireless data. The up side is that there are usually some pretty sweet prices on phones, since wireless companies know they can make it up on the back end, but for heavy users things can get expensive fast. And unfortunately, the glorious promises of "unlimited" data usage tacked onto iPhone plans offered by T-Mobile, O2 and Orange in their respective iPhone-exclusive markets aren't quite the revolution we might've hoped for. T-Mobile just posted its rate plans for the November 9th iPhone launch, though it quickly pulled them from the site. Eagle-eyed observers grabbed a screenshot of the rates (pictured), but what's notable is the fine print: depending on which plan you select -- M, L or XL -- you're limited to 200MB, 1GB or 5GB of data, after which your data speeds are limited to 64Kbps, instead of EDGE's traditional 220Kbps max. O2, whose rates have been up since day one, has a slightly vaguer "fair usage policy" that gives O2 the right to slap you with extra charges or change your rate plan if you exceed 200MB of use, though they claim this rarely happens. Details on Orange's rate plans for the iPhone haven't emerged yet, but Orange France has historically some of the priciest unlimited data rates, and has a standing policy to just go ahead and slap per-KB charges once the limit is crossed. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

[Thanks, Patrick]

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