In order to capitalise on the new 3G data networks of the time, Three was founded in the year 2000 – it’s owned by Hutchison Whampoa and has become one of the largest mobile service providers in the UK.
Initially making huge gains with customers thanks to the high speed of their 3G network coverage (at a time when competitors Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and O2 had patchy data services), their popularity has tailed off somewhat with the advent of 4G data – a market currently being cornered by EE.
Although relatively new to the mobile arena, Three Mobile are currently responsible for a large proportion of the UK market, and are estimated to have around 30 million customers worldwide – most of whom are based here in Britain.
In addition to their core operations, they have also been responsible for making own-branded 3 Skypephones (also known as Skype on 3) – which allow customers to make free calls without affecting their data allowances – as well as providing mobile broadband to laptops and computers through Three branded dongles.
Like their competitors, Three offers two basic tariff plans for their customers: Pay As You Go and contracted Pay Monthly plans.
With a large part of their marketing done on the back of being a network capable of providing high-speed mobile data, much of their business is done through contracted deals – however, their PAYG offering also provides value-for-money browsing.