I had a couple of long train journeys today, so this morning just after I boarded that train at Paddington I followed the instructions on my iPhone to turn on internet tethering. This would allow me to use its 3G internet connection on my laptop via bluetooth, enabling me to get some work done. Brilliant!

Follow the instructions to enable it and you end up with a fiddly web form that requires you to manually fill in the details that O2 already have for you. How's that for an integrated experience?! Terrible, that's how. And then the coup de grace – it's 14 hours later and internet tethering has still not been turned on for my phone. Both train journeys have been and gone, I'm starved of juicy internet goodness and O2 are presumably laughing at me whilst making a small tower from 15 of my pound coins.

Their instructions do say it could take up to 24 hours to come alive, but it's natural to assume that this is a worst case caveat, like Royal Mail saying you're not allowed to complain about 1st class mail until it's gone missing for 7 days – a backup clause to cover exceptional circumstances. Apparently O2 are serious, perhaps to deliberately discourage people who are in any way impulsive from stupidly parting with their money for such an overpriced service. Perhaps they're on our side after all…

Update: about 30 hours have now passed since I bought the tethering bolt on. Now not only does my phone still not have data tethering, but it has no data connection whatsoever. So I can't get email, visual voicemail, web etc. on the phone itself, let alone on a tethered device. A quick call to O2's magic iPhone support number gives me a recorded message that they're having trouble in the London area with 'network congestion'. I don't see why this innocuous Tuesday would result in a tidal wave of traffic that brings their service to its knees, unless it's simply the continuing weight of iPhones being added to its network every day as they continue to sell like hotcakes.

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