Three has always been a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to phone signal. Or more specifically it's been very quick to ditch the old networks and focus its efforts on newer things, which is why it started shutting down its support for 2G networks back in 2010. Now, it's announced that it's going to stop selling phones that only support 3G.
It should be made clear at this point that Three isn't killing off its 3G network, so if you end up in an area with spotty 4G coverage Three users will still be able to fall back on the older 3G and HSDPA+ networks. Similarly it doesn't mean phones that are 3G only, like the new Nokia 3310, will stop being compatible Three's network. It just means none of them will be sold by Three, so you'll have to go to Tesco or something.
It's a big step for Three, whose UK launch was planned to coincide with its rollout of 3G services so this will be the first time in its history that the network will not be stocking 3G handsets. The official line about the change is to "enhance the customer experience" and reflect the network's history of "breaking industry norms". Three UK CEO Dave Dyson said:
“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.
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.”
Considering this is 2018, this move isn't a particularly big deal. 4G has been around long enough that even very cheap handsets come with LTE support, even the non-smart features phones you'd normally associate with drug dealers and children whose parents aren't daft enough to buy them an iPhone. So Three has plenty of options if it wants to sell devices like that, not that it seemed to be anyway. Checking the network's online store, and there are only two feature phones listed - both of which are unavailable.
But with 5G on the way, it's probably a good idea to start weaning ourselves off 3G - especially since the big networks have been doing a pretty good job of increasing the amount of geographical coverage they offer. In my experience Three is not one of them, but hey. [Computer Weekly]