3G earns its name through being the third generation of mobile phone technology and is based on the International Telecommunication Union's family of standards under the International Mobile Telecommunications programme IMT-2000.
3G technologies enable network operators to offer users a wider range of advanced services with greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services include wireless voice telephony and broadband data. Typically they provide service at 5-10 mb per second.
3 UK is owned by Hutchison Whampoa Limited, which dates back to the nineteenth century. As one of Hong Kong's largest companies HWL has operations in 53 countries and over 200,000 employees worldwide. Its five core businesses are ports and related services, telecommunications, property and hotels, retail and manufacturing and energy and infrastructure. Originally two companies, HWL is formed of Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock, established in 1863 and Hutchison International in 1877. Hutchison International gained controlling interest of Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock in the 1960s. Hutchison acquired Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock and became Hutchison Whampoa Limited in 1977. Since 1979 it has belonged to the Cheung Kong Group. HWL was one of the first operators in the world to introduce 3G services. It owns 3G licences in eleven markets in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The UK government awarded five licences to run third generation wireless services in 2000. The largest licence was put aside for a new company to increase competition in the market and was acquired by Hutchison 3G (now 3). The UK's first video mobile network was launched in 2003 by 3 who met their licence requirements three years ahead of schedule. Summer 2007 saw the 200 millionth 3G subscriber being connected, which accounts for 6.7% of mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.
In December 2007 T-Mobile and 3 pooled their 3G mobile phone networks in order to bring wireless broadband to 98% of the UK population and cut out 5,000 phone masts. T-Mobile has a million active 3G customers included in its subscribers overall, whereas all of 3's three million customers are on its 3G network. It's planned that by the end of 2009 there will be 13,000 sites with a network capable of speeds up to 7.2 MB per second, which is almost twice the current average residential broadband speed and about twenty times faster than existing 3G services. 3 mobile phones offer good connectivity and the online coverage checker helps you see whether your particular location is covered at present as well as what is planned during the next few months.
Mobile phones on the 3 network include a range of Sony Ericsson and Nokia 3 handsets. A range of different 3 mobile phone contracts are on offer varying depending on the level of usage you want and the ratio of texts to voice minutes. A 3 mobile phone contract suitable for you can be searched for by the plan alone or according to the specific fone that you want. 3 mobile contracts are also available from a number of independent retailers through their phone shops or online. It is sometimes possible to change your 3 mobile contract to a different price plan although for some changes you need to wait until you're eligible for an upgrade. Pay as you go deals are available as well as monthly contracts. Three separate rates on payg make it simpler to choose the deal you want. PAYG SIM cards can be bought cheaply online, although to access any 3G services you will need to use the SIM card in a 3 mobile phone. If you buy a 3 SIM or handset it's possible to keep your old number.
Mobile broadband is offered by 3 with a range of different price plans of either 12, 18 or 24 months. There's no one off cost and the price plans vary according to the level of data you want to download from the Internet each month although it's always possible to pay an extra fee if you use the network more heavily in any particular month. Broadband packages include a USB data modem, USB cable, user guide and a SIM card. It's possible to choose your own design dongle and there's no need to be anywhere near a wireless hub or hotspot. Mobile Internet is also available on a pay as you go basis on the 3 phone network.
Mobile offers and special deals appear on the website as well as occasional competitions. Mobile deals include money back offers. Refurbished three mobile phones can be purchased under 3mobiles 12 month guarantee. All refurbished handsets are checked, tested and repaired if necessary and can work out much cheaper than a new 3mobile phone bought at a phone store. Phone offer don't include cashback schemes as these are usually made available through the shop you bought your phone. New deals are announced on the front page of the website.
The Recommend a Mate scheme is available to monthly 3gmobile customers and gives both you and a friend who signs up for a mobile phone on 3 credit to your three mobile phone. You can recommend as many friends as you like under this scheme.
The 3 website at threestore.three.co.uk offers 3gmobiles on pay as you go and monthly contracts in its online store. There are now also 250 shops selling 3mobile phones in the UK. The store locator on 3's website with help you to find the 3 phone shop nearest to you. On the subject of websites and locating things, we have had the hardest time ever researching the safety net thrown around this particular company's product. First off, don't bother trying www.3.co.uk or www.3.com as single digit website addresses are not available for either TLD, their main UK retail site is available at www.three.co.uk with the international offerings available through www.three.com ... and that is all! For those of you unfamiliar with how web addresses work, their retail store address of threestore.three.co.uk uses a subdomain so entering www.threestore.com or www.threestore.co.uk directly will not get you there, you need to go through their main site. Neither of those domains are owned by 3 anyway, same with www.3store.com and www.3store.co.uk too. Any other variation that you would expect such as www.threephones.co.uk, www.threemobile.co.uk, www.threemobiles.co.uk, www.threephone.co.uk, www.threephone.com or www.threephones.com are all owned by other companies and (currently) none of them selling phones from the 3 network with the exception of www.threemobile.com and www.threemobiles.com - but as to the quality of the company selling them we have no idea. It seems as though even with their big number 3 as their logo they have not pursued any of the popular and regularly typed in web address with a 3 in them such as www.3mobile.co.uk, www.3mobiles.co.uk, www.3phone.co.uk, www.3mobile.com or www.3phone.com, but this time, rather then being an actual retailer, the web addresses www.3phones.co.uk, www.3phones.com and www.3mobiles.com seem to be just an advert for the e2save company which we have reviewed elsewhere. Whether these are owned by e2save or are a paid advert we have no clue so either way it looks like if you are planning on buying a 3 phone direct then you really need to bookmark the site (we didn't ever try the 3G versions of each!) if you haven't got the best of memories because the last thing you want is to pass your personal details to the wrong people.
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