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O2 axes unlimited data

It's austerity Britain as O2 cancels unlimited data for everyone buying or upgrading a smart-phone contract after 24 June, the date the iPhone 4 goes on sale

Armageddon is nigh, smart-phone lovers -- O2 has ditched unlimited data bundles for new customers and anyone upgrading their contract.

Just like our granddad brags how he used to drive on the motorway before speed limits, we'll be able to tell our grandkids how we used to stream YouTube on our iPhones without a care in the world. As of 24 June, the date of the iPhone 4 launch, new and upgrading customers will have the option of tariffs that include a mere 500MB, 750MB or 1GB of data.

O2 says that based on the way its customers use their phones now, 97 per cent of people won't go above the lowest 500MB limit. If you do need more Internet juice, you can buy a bolt-on for £5 for 500MB or £10 for 1GB. The bolt-on automatically renews each month and you can cancel it any time during the contract. 

Text messages will let you know how much surfing you've done and how much you've got left, so you can monitor your usage, like a tragic data trainspotter.

People who have unlimited data on their existing contracts can hang on to them for the foreseeable future, even if you're on a 30-day Simplicity SIM-only deal. But as soon as you upgrade, you can count on that fountain of data being cut off at the source.

O2 was one of the few networks that never had a firm fair-use policy on its unlimited data deals, although it would become grumpy if your usage was "excessive" and affected the experience of other people. 

The change reflects the huge amount of data swapped by the increasing number of smart phones in the world -- and the complaints from iPhone users when the phone swamped the O2 network when it launched it exclusively in the UK. 

The news follows a change in Vodafone's fair-use policy for data, which came into force on 1 June. Customers who often go over the 500MB fair-use limit are asked to move to a more expensive contract or charged extra for their profligacy. 

If you buy or upgrade a contract with O2 before 1 October, you'll be offered unlimited Internet until that date as a sweetener -- after that, the flood gates are closed forever.