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3 mobile are owned by Hutchinson Telecom, the largest mobile phone supplier in the world. Hutchinson as well as owning the mobile phone network they also own one of the largest health and beauty franchises in the world, one that we will all be familiar with Superdrug, this is why you will always find 3 mobile in Superdrug stores.
3 Mobile launched in 2003, planning to make the biggest notch in the mobile marketplace. This of course was never likely to happen; Orange and Vodafone dominated the UK market. What happened was a melt down in the initial first few months. There were a number of issues that caused the first few months to be rocky ones, these were:-
First of all 90% of the company is based in Malaysia, not India as I hear every single time the network is mentioned. There is not one single element of 3 mobile based in India. Secondly there has been the rumour that some people give themselves British names in order to seem like they are in the UK that is a fallacy, what does happen on occasion is you get through to the other 10% of the call centres based here in the UK. I believe that Orange, who actually also have some ties to Hutchinson Telecom, used to give their Chinese call centre staff British names, but 3 never have. As a result lots of customers binned 3 in the first few days of joining listening to rumours and hearsay about the company. In January 2004 BBC television show Watchdog investigated the company and found not one issue that was raised could be upheld, having spent a massive amount of money on investigating these rumours, sending people all across the world. Watchdog declared “We have had a number of calls regarding 3 mobile in respect of the call centres, having fully investigated we are unable to find any fault in the company policies, and confirm that there are no Indian call centres”. In 2003 the company was going mad about work being taken out of the country that could easily be handled from within, in particular India was a big concern with a large percentage of banks etc. all closing call centres down here and setting up in India. The key issue was that if 3 had call centres in India they were breaking some law about supplying a network, due to some trade initiative.
The second big issue was coverage, people said the signal kept failing and calls were being dropped. This happens with any network, 3 is not exclusive in this area. On launch 3 had a 25% footprint of the UK, which was minimal compared to other providers, however that 25% footprint was for interactive services. Actual coverage of the country in total was 99%, as the other percentage was supplied by o2. People used coverage as an excuse to get out of their contracts. What does on occasion happen is that on changing from one network to another the signal drops for about a second; what 3 do however is refund you for the second call whether your on Pay As You Go or contract, an issue that lots of people skate over. Now in 2007 3 have a 70% coverage of their interactive services and own network, with another 29.7% coverage being provided by Orange. As a result 3 have better coverage of the UK than Vodafone, o2, and T-mobile.
Thirdly initially 3 was the hardest network to get on due to the price of the mobile phones (back then nearly £800 for the most basic of their phones). The credit scoring system would flag up even the slightest blemishes. As the value of phones has dropped 3 reduced the credit rating system the network have now become the prime choice for people on low credit ratings as they will now accept customers even with CCJ’s
The only thing you can direct in 3’s direction or any 3G network is that the phones are bigger. At the launch of 3 their phones were like entering a time warp and going back 3 years. But this should be expected, Imagine twice the content of any other mobile being put into one mobile phone. Initially every 3 mobile included a basic GPRS service, like a TomTom they don’t offer this now, but this made the phones a lot bigger. As time has progressed the mobile phones are coming down to normal size, the last 2 phones I have had, I have not considered them larger than any other network. Now let’s talk about what everyone forgets about 3 mobile:
If you’re on PAYG (pay as you go) if someone rings you, for every minute they are on the phone to you 3 give you up to 1p in value of calls for you to make; I appreciate this is not a massive amount, but many people receive as many calls as they make, my other half gets about £1 of calls to spend each month, which depending on the time of day can be up to an hours worth of calls.
If Your one either Contract or PAYG you get:
Free new in both text and video form. Free Today On 3 – A ten minute streamed television channel showing you what your 3 phone can do, running through the charts, entertainment news and celebrity interviews. Free Weather in text or video form. Free Movie info – This consists of movie trailers, interviews etc. Showbiz News – A free video of the top story daily. Free Horoscope Free Sports News – In text and video form My3- The ability to see exactly what you have spent, and to where; as well as any free allowances you have left. This is up to the minute and includes data allowances, text messaging, and multimedia messaging. Free E-mail – Get your own 3 e-mail account and access it free via PC or your phone whenever you want. Free E-mail to Pop3 severs – So if you use outlook express you can configure your phone to collect e-mail during the day free of charge, or access it on an ad hoc basis. MSN Messenger – Free to PAYG users until November, Free to Contract users for life. Free access to 3 approved web pages i.e. Digital Spy, BBC etc.
TV Channels – Includes ITV, and BBC from May 25th, National Geographic, MTV, Zone Reality, Nickelodeon. I personally get this free as part of my contract.
Music Downloads – 3 have a wider selection of downloads than even I-tunes. And this includes music video’s as well as music tracks. Whichever you want its 99p per download for mainstream stuff older titles prices are reduced.
Games Library – You don’t have to buy the games here, you can rent them too. Games cost between £1 - £5 to purchase or you can rent them for a three day period from 30p - 40p. The games selection is updated slightly every other day, with a massive influx of new stuff in the middle of each month.
The Internet – Not the WAP internet, although you can have that, this is the proper internet including 8 out of 10 reasonably sized downloads.
Magazines – All the popular magazines on your phone Heat etc, you can access them whenever you want them.
See Me TV – 3’s version of Youtube. Watch home made videos from free to 50p per video.
Screensavers – Jazz up your phone with screensavers and wallpapers.
Podcasts – All your favourite shows on radio downloaded onto your phone to listen to as and when you like.
Adult Section – I’ve never been in here being a clean living chap, but there is a top shelf section which includes video’s and games, as well as just images.
I chose to write this as again I see reviews coming up based on old wives tales of four years ago, while 3 are not the best network in the world and have their faults they go out of there way to help you if you are prepared to give them the chance. Every time I have contacted 3 which has been all of about 7 times and only 2 of those occasions because I had a query, the staff have been more than helpful. I was once told by T-mobile (because I never paid by direct debit) that I was a liability. 3 respect your service however they get paid for it.
I don’t work for 3 though I nearly did and had access to certain information not always publicly banded about. But the other thing being is I bother to do my research, I look at the facts before jumping to a conclusion.
The other nice thing about 3 is the service they supply in respect of upgrades. I recently threw my phone down the stairs smashing the screen, two months before my upgrade. When I rang 3 they allowed me a free upgrade 2 months early, meaning I guess it’s a 14 month contract instead of a 12 month one. But if you’re a bit like me and like to upgrade your phone every 6 months, they upgrades during interim periods are a lot less costly than other networks and delivery is always next day even if you order it on a Friday (Sunday obviously not being a delivery day).
PAYG tarrifs vary but a £30 a month spend will give you 600 minutes of calls and 100 text messages.
3 value their customers, I joined in 2003 on a £60 per month contract, which got me 400 minutes of calls.
Now in 2007 my £27.50 per month gets me:-
1000 minutes of calls on or off peak (this is not a trial period) 50 Text Messages 50 MMS Messages £5 of free downloads to use on games, or video’s or music. Free Internet Access
This is because they look after their continuing trade, all you need to do is ask the questions i.e. "What can you do for me?" Are you getting better from your network?