3 (three)


3 or Three is the newest mobile phone network in the UK.

In May 2000 the UK government awarded five licences to allow third generation wireless services to be run. The largest of the five was set aside for a new entrant in order to increase market competition, which was bought by Hutchison (current owners of 3).

Hutchison were also the original owners of Orange, but sold the company to Mannesmann at the height of the telecomms boom. Vodafone then bought the German company, which meant having to sell Orange once again. Hutchison gained even more money by selling their 10% stake of Mannesmann before the telecomms bubble burst and valuations fell significantly.

This resulted in 3 having enough money to pay for the expensive 3G license, building the network, and creating market share by offering excellent deals to early buyers.

3 launched Britain’s first video mobile network in 2003, to revamp the mobile media market with new and better services, and is currently the UK’s leading mobile media company.

Their mobile devices all offer a convergence of communications, information and entertainment – their three core areas of business.

  • 3 is the largest 3G (third generation) network in the UK and Europe
  • The 3 network has over 10 million customers and is available across eight countries.
  • There are currently 3.5 million 3G customers in the UK alone
  • The 3G system supports high-speed data connections, equivalent to, or better than, broadband on fixed lines – fast enough to use streaming video on a mobile phone.
  • 3 were the first mobile operator to offer Barclays Football Premiership highlights on video mobile.
  • 3 were first to stream live TV over mobile in the UK (Grand National 2005).

Although they still have issues with their network and their handsets, their pricing is very competitive.