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The iPhone 3G in the Czech Republic

The iPhone became went on sale in the Czech Republic on the 22nd of August 2008.

This article provides you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about which provider is right for you.

The big difference to other markets is that all three operators (O2, T-Mobile (information only on Czech) and Vodafone) have the iPhone available. That however is where the similarities end – not all iPhone offerings are equal. Don't expect the bumper minutes and unlimited data plans that are showered upon iPhone customers in some areas of Western Europe. However one plus point is that all iPhones sold in the Czech Republic are "unlocked". Guideline prices for phones, off contract, are 12,000Kč (US$466.80, GBP310.80, 439.20EUR) for the 8GB model and 14,000Kč (US$544.60, GBP362.60, 512.40EUR) for the 16GB.

It's a size thing
O2 and Vodafone are both selling the 8GB and 16GB models. T-Mobile, referring to their experience selling the iPhone in other countries has opted to sell only the 8GB version, effectively cutting them out of the upper end of the market.

Great gigs in the sky
Or more like a lack of them… None of the operators provide data packages comparable to those available in some other countries. However, some are better than others. O2 are the only one of the three operators to have implemented a 3G network, albeit the 3G coverage is only in the cities of Prague and Brno! The main bone of contention will be with the low FUP (Fair Usage Policy) quotas. For this comparison we will look at the entry level bundled data offerings:

Operator / ProductCoverage typeMonthly Cost (Kč, inc vat) FUP/Quota
O2 Internet v Mobilu3G, EDGE, GPRS, WiFi150 Kč125MB/week over 3G/EDGE/GPRS
T-Mobile Surf+MailEDGE, GPRS119 Kč100MB/month
T-Mobile Internet+EDGE, GPRS475 Kč2Gb/month
Vodafone Připojení na stáloEDGE, GPRS325 Kč3GB/month

Vodafone give you the most data for your money but the downside is that their network coverage is poorer than the others. If you're spending most of your time in places that Vodafone cover with decent data speeds then you should be fine. Vodafone had initially announced much higher prices (650Kč a month for that data package when not signed up for with an iPhone, originally with no discount for iPhone users) but dropped them after bad media and customer reaction.

O2's 500MB/month offering should be sufficient for most users and it is at least at 3G speeds in Prague and Brno. The 125MB/week FUP is a special concession to iPhone users – normally the limit is 37.5MB/week.

T-Mobile's 100MB a month (a special price for iPhone users, it's usually double that) can only be described as miserly. When you add to that the fact that protocols other than web and email are blocked, it shows itself as no solution at all. To remove that limitation, and increase the FUP to 2GB will cost you approximately 350Kč a month more.

Coverage maps

Use these to examine what kind of coverage you'll get in the places that matter to you:

Headline price
The price you'll pay for your phone depends on how much you commit to spending every month. Vodafone's prices are higher than the other two because they only require a one-year contract. You can understand their reluctance to overly subsidise the phone when they can only guarantee a year's worth of payments from you. If you're willing to commit to spending 2,150Kč a month O2 will give you the phone for one crown (in either capacity). A similar commitment to Vodafone (2425Kč) gets you the 16GB iPhone for 5477Kč. The 8GB (the only model they offer) from T-Mobile is yours for one Czech crown if you commit to a minimum monthly spend of 2300Kč.

Contractually yours

In the realms of more reasonable monthly contracts, O2 will sell you the 16GB iPhone for 7995Kč on their iPhone "M" package – 600Kč a month gets you unlimited weekend calls to other O2 mobiles and fixed lines and 80 minutes a month to other networks, unlimited weekend texts to O2 numbers and 20 texts to other networks a month and the Internet v Mobilu data package mentioned above – 500MB of data a month, spread evenly over each week. Once you reach that limit your access drops to a barely useable 16KBps. Spend another 200Kč a month (iPhone "L" package) and you get 50% more calls and texts to other networks and unlimited calling to O2 numbers off peak too.

T-Mobile have not provided any iPhone specific packages other than allowing you to add the Surf+Mail (usually 475Kč a month) to your tariff for just 119Kč a month, for the duration of your contract. For the sake of comparison, their closest tariff, with the data offering, to O2's "Neon M" (600Kč) is the "T80" tariff. For a total monthly outlay of 655Kč you'll have 80 minutes of free calls, texts will cost you 2Kč each (so 40Kč on top if you send 20 texts, as on the O2 tariff). Total cost for the same usage as the Neon M package: 695Kč. A definite win for O2 there then. You could equally opt for one of T-Mobile's credit tariffs – the "Kredit 450" tariff will run you 655Kč a month with "Surf+Mail" data. The unused credit rolls over to the next period and calls are 6Kč a minute, texts are 1.19Kč each.

Vodafone have opted to offer the iPhone with their "Nabito" (Loaded) tariff, and the "Připojení na stálo" (Connect for Good) internet tariff. The closest to O2's Neon and T-Mobile's T80 is the "Nabito 350" deal – essentially 350Kč worth of credit to be allocated as you wish across calls and texts. Calls are 5Kč a minute, texts are 1.19Kč, so anything from 70 minutes of calls and no texts to no calls and 294 texts. Vodafone, unlike the others, charges for calls by the second instead of per half minute. The major advantage of the Vodafone deal is the 3GB/month FUP. If you're going to be using data a lot (and have decent coverage where you are – remember Vodafone don't have the widest network) then this is an excellent choice.

Head to head

It's got to be (perfect)
If you want a 16GB iPhone, T-Mobile are out of the game immediately. If you're not fussed on the capacity then you need to decide how much data you'll be using. Deciding between O2 and Vodafone therefore needs to be done based on how you will use the phone, how much you'll pay for the hardware, and the monthly cost of the contract.

It's all in the data
If you envisage being a heavy user of data and have decent coverage from Vodafone then they provide the best solution and with the Nabito tariffs any unused credit is rolled over into the next period – not a feature of the T-Mobile T80 tariff or the or O2 Neon tariff used in this comparison. As T-Mobile's data offering is so mean they are out of the picture. O2's big selling point is the 3G network. If 500MB of data is enough for you, they're well worth considering. O2 also throw in use of their Wi-Fi hotspots (over 200 throughout the country) to make up some of the difference. Vodafone have no Wi-Fi hotspots and similarly unlimited access to T-Mobile's hotspots is metered by the hour, 3 hour or 24 hour period and at 595Kč for 24 hours will burn cash fast. It is unclear whether the Internet Premium service at 1189Kč a month will apply to the iPhone, but that should give you access to hotspots and a 10GB FUP for EDGE access. (something of a premium!)

I want it now!
So you've decided you want an iPhone – if you've not got a contract already (or you've not had a subsidised phone for a couple of years) you're in a better position than someone who's recently signed up with a network. O2 and T-Mobile's policy on upgrading to the iPhone is that you have to be within six months of the end of your contract to benefit from the reduced price of the handset. With Vodafone whilst they don't have ‘binding contracts' as such, it has to be more than two years since they last provided you with a phone at a reduced price – maybe you're better off switching networks.

In summary
All of the networks charge roughly the same for calls and texts, regardless of whether you have an inclusive minutes or a credit tariff. Assuming you've been using a phone for calls and texts here the best way to decide on which tariff to go for is to examine your previous spending. If you're getting the iPhone for data then there's really nothing that could recommend T-Mobile whereas the other two each have their plus points. We've prepared a simple Total Cost of Ownership comparison PDF (attached to this page) to show the first year costs of the 8GB and 16GB iPhone to help you make up your mind.

The iPhone 3G in the Czech Republic

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