EDGE connections are popping up on O2's network as the company prepares to deploy the 2.5G technology.
The sudden outbreak of edginess comes despite the firm paying over £4bn for a 3G license and dismissing EDGE as a redundant technology, and can only be related to the imminent launch of Apple's iPhone.
Mr. Jobs promised a 3G version of the iPhone by now, but O2 seems unable to wait and has decided to deploy the current technology. Most of O2's network can support EDGE with a software upgrade, so the expense is minimal, particularly if it limits the deployment to London and its environs.
US iPhone users have tolerated EDGE connections, when they can't find a Wi-Fi hotspot to link up to. O2 already has deals with a range of hotspot providers, and our information is that they'll launch an unlimited data tariff to go with the iPhone, which could easily incorporate hotspot access.
Deploying a data-centric device using EDGE is something of a slap in the face to O2 investors who supported the company spending billions on 3G, and selling the iPhone will be even harder when it's on the shelf beside a free HTC-Touch (or similar) which has 3G. Even if punters don't know what it all means, they'll spot the missing specification and difference in price.®