back to article Look how modern we are! UK network Three to kill off 3G-only phones

The UK's first 3G network is to stop selling 3G-only devices, a move it says demonstrates how whizzy, modern and farsighted it is. Hutchison's Three was the first to launch 3G in spring 2003. But it was also the last of the four to roll out 4G in December 2013, three months after O2 and Vodafone, and over a year after EE …

Silver badge

As long as they run a 3G service ...

I don't really care what new 'phones they sell - I don't buy my 'phone through my network supplier. Hell, there are still parts of the UK where 3G does not work and the 'phone has to use 2G.

44
1
Silver badge
Coat

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

Except where 4G,3G,2G are all too crap to get any service when your option are smoke signals, wireline or flags on poles.

18
1
Bronze badge
Coat

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

I draw the line at squirrels with semaphore flags.

Mine's the one with the set of flags in the pocket.

7
0
K
Silver badge

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

I'm on Three, and there are even some parts of London that I can't even get a signal!

9
0
Silver badge

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

Three has bizarre, tiny, holes all over London these days. Outside Baker Street Station for example and outside King's College London.

They are new and arrived immediately after their big outage a year ago. I think they ditched something in their network that was filling the gaps in reception.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

three are weird sometimes. here in the lakes you seem to get either full bars or none with 3. vodacrap at least get signal even if they are shite as a company.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

> Mine's the one with the set of flags in the pocket.

No, that's mine. Yours is the one with the squirrels.

5
0

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

I've been with Vodafone for over 20 years and whilst I'm happy to complain where complaint is due, I've found my dealings with the company very easy, and personally I rate them very highly, however YMMV. They are not the cheapest, but I can't remember the last time I was stuck without a signal. Same is true of Virgin Media - Whilst I've only got VM broadband, again I've been with them for over 20 years and have had nothing but good, dependable service from them with very few outages.

Plus I like the fact that Voda also still run 2G. Does anyone know if they have plans of killing it off?

1
0
J27

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

2G? Damn, over on the other side of the pond we shut that stuff down years ago. 3G is probably going soon too.

1
4
Black Helicopters

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

I'd bloody well hope they're killing off 2G; setting phones to disable 2G entirely by default (which won't happen while 2G is in use) makes it more difficult for any rando to run an IMSI catcher. They haven't yet taken it out behind the barn because of all the fielded devices that have a 2G-only modem and need to be upgraded. (ATMs, soda machines, whatever—not all being so easily accessible, of course.)

1
0

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

As a proud owner of a Nokia 130, I can vouch for the fact that 2G is alive and well (though obviously not for three customers). I don't generally get signal strength problems and battery life is in a different ball park to 3g and 4g phones.

0
0

Re: As long as they run a 3G service ...

Except where I live, 4G speeds are so bad that Vodafone support (I kid you not) asked me to switch to 2G so I could continue to make and receive phone calls. Their support is the stuff of nightmares. You don't stand a chance of getting past the first level support drones and they do everything they can to ignore your problem.

0
0

Things must really have improved!

I wonder if their customer service has also improved?

3
0
Silver badge

No, it hasn't improved, nevertheless, they are now the third worst out of the big four whereas previously they were the worst.

8
1
Silver badge

That's another reason to keep my N900 in a drawer then. Or skip over to virgin media, they do have 45Gb for £18 a month and my contract is up soon. hmm, tempting.

5
0

My (long, and now over expensive) contract with 3 is almost at a close - for which I'm profoundly grateful.

I've been looking at Virgin Mobile as an alternative - piggybacking on EE's monster network without having to deal with EE is looking mighty tempting. Granted, my slightly-too-much broadband bill is subsidising it, but at least my bank balance will look healthier...

4
0
Anonymous Coward

--->I've been looking at Virgin Mobile as an alternative

The problem comes when you have a problem with the EE end of the system. The Virgin IT system seems to work fine but it can only hold one issue at a time per customer. As a result after a problem with EE i ended up with no service, no transferable number and dunning letters for monthly payment for the nonexistent service.

It was eventually sorted out by a very nice woman in the complaints department but I never got my number back and am now with a different provider.

5
0
Coffee/keyboard

Ending Three Contracts

Good luck getting out. It took me nearly an hour of being passed round Customer Service Assistants to get a PAC. They wanted to know why I wanted to leave (poor reception in key areas) and would not take it as a reason, because I had not phoned up previously and complained about it. By the end of the call I swore I would never go back to Three even if the only alternative were Vodafone.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Ending Three Contracts

its easy. just repeat three time 'i just want my pac please' without answering their sales retention questions. on the third time say 'why are you refusing to give me a pac? what is your name again? if you wont give me my pac can you put me through to the complaints department so I can complain about you.'

that works for vodaphone too.

2
0

So no Doro Clam then?

I notice Doro is out of stock on Three, and while the Swedish company showed a 4G clam at MWC it was a way from shipping

3
0
Silver badge

I love Three ...

... as a network. As a phone provider? KILL IT. KILL IT WITH FIRE.

9
0

Will they have to rebrand themselves to "Four" now?

22
0
Anonymous Coward

4warned

Because 4G is gonna be around 4eva? I read on the internet that 5G doesn't work through trees and will give everyone cancer, so you might be right.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: 4warned

EVERYTHING gives you cancer.

3
0
Bronze badge

One Plus

Fortunately I buy my phones separately / not on contract. The WileyFox swift is still working great and I love unlocked phones so I can swap sim cards when I like.

Any idea if the new WileyFox owner / company is any good as they promised to honour warranty claims for phones sold by the previous owner etc? Or should I just go for a One Plus or something else ?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: One Plus

As far as I can tell they are either keeping hold of the phones that were in for repair with them at the time of the buy out, or they've simply junked them, so personally I wouldn't trust them to honour anything.

1
0

Three... as in "if you can't a get 4G or 3G connection, you're free of the convenience of using your phone". Basically, don't consider streaming music in the countryside if you're on Three, because your reception will be bouncing around like a toddler on a trampoline. 2G is better than no G, and now the provider with the worst reception coverage across the country is going to make a bad situation worse.

6
1
Silver badge

Forward thinking?

Or savage cost cutting?

It's too early to retire 3G.

6
2
Gold badge

Re: Forward thinking?

I don't think they are retiring 3G (or 2G for that matter). All they are saying is that they can no longer buy a new phone that doesn't do 4G. I can't say I'm very surprised, although the implication that they have only just reached that point *is* surprising, since 4G phones have been around for ages.

7
0

Re: Forward thinking?

Many carriers want to reallocate their 3G bands for 5G services. Since 5G NR is supposed to use a new air interface and is not part of the LTE family, carriers will have to roll it out parallel to their existing LTE infrastructure.

The problem that I see is that most early LTE phones lack native VoLTE support. They use 2G/3G for voice. So when those older networks all go dark, not only will all of the 3G-only phones go silent, but so will a good number of 4G phones unless the carrier includes a VoIP app that can work over LTE data.

Here in the States where "branded" carrier-specific models are the norm, this will be made more difficult in that carriers generally refuse to support VoIP/WiFi-Calling on anything other than their own phones. They've baked their custom VoIP dialers into the firmware. So if you purchased a carrier agnostic model or brought your unlocked phone over from another carrier, you'll have to ditch the phone or find a third party VoIP service that works with downloadable app.

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Forward thinking?

Not relevant to the actions & decisions of Three, but this might be worth noting if Vodafone come to the same decision about ditching 3G. Vodafone intercept and actively prohibit SIP VoIP over their data network, whether under their own brand, or under the brand of a MVNO such as Talkmobile. Personal experience, confirmed eventually by one of their call centre operatives. No mention in the advertising, discovering it caused me to back out of a long term contract post haste.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Forward thinking?

If they're retiring 3G phone sales now, they're thinking of retiring 3G coverage 18 months to 2 years from now. By that time everyone will have had a chance to get a new phone on contract.

2
4
Silver badge

Re: Forward thinking?

The problem that I see is that most early LTE phones lack native VoLTE support. They use 2G/3G for voice. So when those older networks all go dark, not only will all of the 3G-only phones go silent, but so will a good number of 4G phones unless the carrier includes a VoIP app that can work over LTE data.

My current phone for calls is a 3G feature phone and I have a smart phone for things like WhatsApp, Web surfing etc. So long as someone still produces a 4G feature phone with a removable battery it won't bother me. I need a battery life that last longer than two days on standby for calls and I don't want to have to carry an external battery. Hence why I have a feature phone, it doesn't need a touchscreen or the ability to stream music just the ability to make calls and send the odd text.

4
0

Re: Forward thinking?

it still is an issue in the UK the google pixel phone for 4G calling (VoLTE) for example only works on EE as the 4G IMS profile is backed into the rom for EE but Three and, o2 vodafone dont have 4G calling resulting in unreliable connecting of calls as the phone has to drop to 3G before it can ring,, witch sometimes fails to happen, on 3 its worse as 3 does not support missed call notification text so you be unaware your missing calls unless you use hullomail app which works like apple visual voicemail (you get a missed call notification if they hang up or voicemail which can be played directly in the app), most Virtual mobile providers don't support missed call text (for sure EE vodafone and O2 do)

on top of that it also seems 3UK does Fake ringing before it's actually connected the call (had one day where all 3UK calls was not working outbound but when i rang it on my EE phone it was doing the ringing tone but the 3 phone was not ringing)

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Forward thinking?

Believe it or not, you are more right than you think!

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Forward thinking?

Vodafone intercept and actively prohibit SIP VoIP over their data network, whether under their own brand, or under the brand of a MVNO such as Talkmobile.

We had that for a long time. SIP worked just fine on O2 but not on Vodafone. Had a wee word with our phone reseller (small company) and they fixed it right up. So it can be done. I doubt you'll get anywhere speaking to Vodafone directly, though. I know I didn't..

Anyway, our own SIP PBX is now usable on our Vodafone SIMs.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Forward thinking?

I wonder if they will also enforce 4G-capability on any handset, even if sourced independently. Existing 3 SIMS check the profile download bits when the handset starts, and refuse to work if the device is not 3G-capable.

So your old Nokia won't work with a new 3 SIM.

0
0
Silver badge

2G (GSM, not USA CDMA)

The GSM voice calls don't suffer cell breathing. The 3G was a retrograde design, really giving more speed because of 5MHz vs GSM 2G 0.2MHz "channels", CDMA (based on USA 2G) was a bad idea as the capacity falls to about 50% as it's loaded. The 4G speed increase needs 20MHz channels, though doesn't suffer the CDMA ills on downlink. However 4G efficiency for voice is terrible as it's only VOIP, no native RF voice codec like GSM 2G and 3G has.

The High Street and eBay still sell GSM only watch gadgets and phones. There ought to be 2 years retail notice of turning off 2G/GSM or 3G (SOGA) after ceasing sales. Irish operations only have to notify Comreg and give 6 months notice. Three Ireland acquired O2 Ireland (and thus masts for Tesco Ireland) which has GSM.

This is really comparing MOBILE with real broadband via Fixed Wireless (a rare thing). It's about 12 years old and done before 4G was rolled out. The 3G & 4G issues are true though.

I found last year some phones in Carphone Warehouse were GSM only. Their excuse was that they were only "feature phones" not smart phones.

By all means stop selling 3G (and GSM) phones. A good idea as long as the 4G models work all over Europe on 3G & GSM.

1
0

Re: 2G (GSM, not USA CDMA)

2G will continue for a few more years yet. There are a lot of legacy systems especially M2M devices that still depend on it and the network kit will still be around as it is still used by hundreds of millions of users who can't afford (or you could argue need, 1st world problems and all that....) our shiny smartphones.

Good news as well for my original Nokias, 3110 and 8110.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: 2G (GSM, not USA CDMA)

It wouldn't surprise me if 2G survives longer than 3G

10
0

Re: 2G (GSM, not USA CDMA)

And my Ericsson GH388 :)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 2G (GSM, not USA CDMA)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but 2G probably won't live much longer. In quite a few countries it is already in the process of being switched off. Australia for example won't have 2G for much longer. Telstra for example (the main network) killed it at the end of 2016, Optus 2017, and VF are giving it up next month.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Allocated spectrum

"But Hutch continued to argue it had been dealt a shitty hand as EE walked off with the plumpest spectrum"

IMHO none of the mobile operators should be allocated their own frequency blocks. Surely thats ridiculously short sighted. That, and WHY do they have to build their own separate parallel networks of masts and equipment? Surely that's ridiculously short sighted too.

I'm sure we would be getting better deals and better coverage if we had one common well built cellular network, which the operators shared and competed over.

Maybe there's an argument about stifling of innovation or somesuch, but I'm not convinced that's a compelling reason why we should have the absurdity that we currently have - two people sitting side by side in the same office, one with full signal and the other in a black spot.

The other reason I suppose is that things might end up going all 'network rail' or 'openreach' - fair point I guess,

13
3

Re: Allocated spectrum

IMHO none of the mobile operators should be allocated their own frequency blocks. Surely thats ridiculously short sighted

Yes, in a way it is "short sighted". But you also know the alternative: a monopoly. And monopolies are crap. It doesn't matter if it's a state owned monopoly (Network Rail) or a private monopoly (OpenReach). Monopolies are bad - end of.

7
6
Silver badge

Re: Allocated spectrum

I'm sure we would be getting better deals and better coverage if we had one common well built cellular network, which the operators shared and competed over.

Between my dual-SIM phone and my emergency backup phone, I have Three (3G and 4G but no 2G because Three don't do 2G), EE 2G and O2 2G. From wandering around with a cell mapping app, I have found a big lattice mast which handles Three 3G and 4G and EE 2G. I have found a (real) telephone with two arrays of flat antennas which handles EE 2G. I've also visually spotted a couple of arrays of flat antennas on metal poles attached to (fairly low) buildings but have no idea what they're for.

Here's the interesting thing. There are occasional outages which kill both Three and EE. They are sharing the big mast, true, but it also kills EE from the telephone pole (which is just around the corner from me). So those outages must be from a common data link. I've had four of those outages in the last 18 months, and every time they kill both Three and EE. O2 carries on working.

Although there are cost benefits to a common infrastructure (until the mobile version of Aquiva realizes it has a monopoly) and the possibility of sharing the costs of construction giving better coverage, the big disadvantage is single point of failure.

3
0

Re: Allocated spectrum

It doesn't matter if it's a state owned monopoly (Network Rail) or a private monopoly (OpenReach). Monopolies are bad - end of.

Interesting point. Network Rail seems broadly analogous to OpenReach but the former was renationalised. While state-owned has issues, that doesn't necessarily make it worse. Though it doesn't mean it wouldn't be, either, but I think that example shows it's more nuanced than you imply.

3
1

Three Network here in Hereford is a waste of time, useless it is.

As for 4G here, that is hit and miss on any network.

0
0
Bronze badge

How's that gonna work....

... considering their network is shit and you lose signal in shops and along the sea front near me on their shitty 4G network. And being on a walk at a National Trust site with no signal the whole time. Being in the woods had nothing to do with it as the GF is on Vodafone and had signal.

2
0
Trollface

Crazy, Good luck

Not sure if you will suffer it in the UK. but in Australia the system does not flip between 3G and 4G automatically. Even when the phone or device settings say prefer 4G or Prefer 3G it will not go between 3 & 4 G networks Automatically. What happens instead you get pushed or parked as something like 24kb/ps while other stronger signals receive commanding access over yours.

Whats more you probably will be stuck with old Android o/s that give 4G/3G/2G or 3G only options without 4G/3G options.

So you will have to go in ans flip the settings to see if 3G is less busy than 4G at the moment.

Good luck.

2
1

Re: Crazy, Good luck

think your confusing speed with signal (phone will prefer the faster technology and wont know if its congested or not)

sound like your area on 4G is little overloaded or signal is below 2 bars (2-3 bars on android devices can mean less than 10-20% signal) only iphone shows true signal levels (they fixed there signal bars in the days of iphone 4S as at&t was blaming iphone for poor signal so apple updating there signal bars to show a correct representation of the signal for each bar)

https://images.anandtech.com/reviews/gadgets/apple/iPhone4/part2/signalbarmapping.jpg

https://www.anandtech.com/show/3821/iphone-4-redux-analyzing-apples-ios-41-signal-fix

to this date android devices still don't correctly show signal levels, 2 or lower bars can mean practically no signal on android (unless you change it to dBm numbers) whereas iphone will show 1 dot

3
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018