Life Keeps Getting Harder for 3
By Carlo Longino, Wed Oct 01 18:45:00 GMT 2003

Things aren't gettin' any easier for 3. After their UK operation decided to compete solely on costs (since its content and services didn't seem to be attracting too many users), a couple of its rivals are undercutting 3's voice tariffs, and its content and features aren't turning many heads.

3 fired the first salvo in this price war back in June, offering 500 minutes of calls to any UK network for GBP 25, far cheaper than any other network. This, of course, led to some users just throwing their SIMS in 2G phones and roaming on O2 constantly, much to 3's consternation. Now O2 and T-Mobile are fighting back, offering cheaper plans.

So the question is, when they're no cheaper than existing 2G carriers, will their content and other services like video calls draw in customers? This has already been debated here on the site, but Martin Little over on Mobitopia gives a great take on 3's content, concluding he can more quickly find better content at a cheaper price using WAP and GPRS.

We've talked about 3 (and their troubles) a number of times before, both about their general malaise and bonehead moves they've made, like locking down the Motorola a920 handset. On one hand, I feel bad bringing them up again for a few reasons, and I do respect them forging ahead with an idea that was being poo-poohed from all corners in these tumultuous telecom times. But on the other hand, when you're the first mover in a field, you open yourself up to these kind of things, and if they don't change things, they may not survive.

But there is some hope: Steve Jones of The 3G Portal offers up a white paper saying how 3G carriers can drive revenues with an easy-to-use UI leading to good, easy-to-use applications.