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Welcome:   o2 Broadband

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If you're after fixed line internet access, there are three packages available from the homepage. What you pay determines download speeds, usage levels and the number of web texts. However, the headline prices only apply for existing O2 mobile phone users and others pay more for the deal. You also need the availability of the O2 broadband network, otherwise you can only get their top price Home Access package. All the offers come with a broadband router for an O2wireless internet service.

As you'd expect from this type of internet provider, mobile broadband is on offer with various plans. Both monthly and pay as you go deals are provided with the option of an included laptop as part of one plan. You can also get a combined mobile and home broadband deal while some of the company's mobile phones will allow connection to the internet. Business broadband is only available in its mobile form through a separate site (businessshop.o2.co.uk). One way that customers can achieve mobile O2broadband is through a process known as internet tethering. This involves connecting a laptop to an iPhone, which then acts as a modem. A tethering bolt-on has to be purchased but provides access to BT Openzone and The Cloud hotspots.

Support is provided online and through a 24-hour helpline, which is a free number and accesses a UK-based customer service team. Unusually, customer service is reasonably well regarded by customers, with a four star rating on one site. Speed, price and reliability are also generally praised, although the mobile service is rated much lower than fixed line broadband, with complaints about poor coverage and bad reception.

The company is aware of problems with its mobile network, which has the lowest 3G coverage in the UK. In November 2009, it announced plans to build or upgrade 1500 base-station sites at a cost of several hundred million pounds.

This is another of those businesses that started as a mobile phone provider and then moved into internet services. The O2 internet origins are as a mobile communications business called Cellnet, a joint venture between BT and Securicor. It became fully owned by BT in 1999 and then demerged as O2 UK, a subsidiary of mmO2 plc in 2001. Five years later, it was bought by Telefonica of Spain in what was the biggest all-cash takeover within the telecommunications industry. The company was renamed Telefonica O2 Europe plc and the O2 brand is used in several European countries, with over 40 million customers.

O2UK was ranked sixth in the Best Companies to Work for in 2008 and won a Which? magazine Best Buy award in 2009. In the same year, the ISP won nine out of eleven uSwitch awards as well as Best Consumer Fixed Broadband and Best Consumer Customer Service at the ISPA Awards. It sponsors the England Rugby team and is the naming rights sponsor for The O2 Arena where you can get priority tickets if you're a customer.

The company obviously knows its name causes confusion, with people entering zero instead of the letter 'o'. Consequently, entering 02 broadband or 02 internet (zero in each case) will put O2 broadband high in the search results. However, 02 wireless (zero again) gets you the O2 Wireless Musical Festival up at the top of the list and www.o2wirelessservices.com further down, which is a US mobile phone service run by Locus Telecommunications.

Entering actual addresses with zeroes gets you different results: www.02.co.uk redirects to www.o2.co.uk (the mobile phone site) while www.02.com goes to www.o2.com (the European parent company site). The main sites for the ISP are broadband.o2.co.uk or www.o2broadband.o2.co.uk, although you can access internet provider information from the phone site (www.o2.co.uk/broadband). Yes, it is very, very confusing - even more so as it is generally known that 2 letter .co.uk web addresses do not exist ... such is true unless it contains a number or two numbers.

Anyone who is an O2 mobile phone customer should seriously consider getting broadband from the company as well. Not only does it mean that you get a cheaper deal but you can source your fixed line and mobile broadband from the same company and reap the loyalty benefits. There are generally good reviews although concerns about mobile network coverage still remain. Although, if you're wanting to bundle in TV and landline phone deals, this isn't the place for you. †



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