The decision to can 3G devices marks a major milestone for the Hutchison-backed operator – the Three >network was set up following the controversial 3G spectrum auction and has only ever sold 3G services and devices.
Indeed, it timed its initial launch for 3 March 2003 (03/03/03) to reflect that, and at the time was the only fully 3G network in the world. It got off to a rocky start and was criticised for having a patchy network and a poor choice of handsets.
Today, however, it boasts 10 million customers and the highest mobile data usage rates in the UK. It has also recently started to prepare its core network to support 5G.
Three said that ending sales of 3G phones was aimed at enhancing the customer experience, and reflected its history of “breaking industry norms”.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do as a business and we are therefore continually striving to provide the best possible experience for them on our network,” said Three UK CEO Dave Dyson.
“Our research has shown that customers who are using all the benefits of 4G are happier and enjoying being able to stream, share and snap to their heart’s content.
“We recognise that this is a significant milestone for us as a business and for the market, just as the introduction of 3G was at the turn of the century, and we are proud to be driving the industry forwards once more.”
Any Three customers still using a 3G device, whether a handset or a mobile broadband device, will still be able to use their devices because the physical network will need to remain in place for years to come. However, if upgrading they will now have to opt for a 4G device.