Major UK wireless carrier Three has reportedly decided to stop selling all 3G handsets going forward, including more recent and popular ones like the 3G-compatible Nokia 3310 remake, but it will continue to run and maintain its 3G and 3.5G networks for a yet-unannounced period. This means that those with older handsets have nothing to worry about, but you'll only be able to buy smartphones from the carrier that support 4G LTE or newer technologies. Bringing your own 3G device is also still on the table for as long as the carrier continues to operate its 15-year-old 3G network, good news for those who haven't embraced the smartphone revolution just yet or like to keep a smartwatch on hand with a SIM slot that only supports 3G connections, such as older Samsung Gear devices.
Three got its start in the UK wireless market by using a large swath of spectrum won at auction to launch a large nad powerful 3G network, enabling it to become the first all-3G carrier in the UK. It's never had a 2G network to fall back on for when customers enter poor coverage zones, but that's never stopped Three from becoming one of the UK's top mobile operators. Its data-focused approach has allowed its customer base to become the heaviest mobile data user group in the market, though its 3G network is still the most robust of any local operators.
Three's move to begin shifting away from 3G devices and networking could indicate a desire to refarm that spectrum for 5G or 4.9G usage in the future, but the carrier hasn't announced anything to that effect just yet. This comes after an unsuccessful attempt to merge with O2, another major operator in the UK scene. The £10.25 billion deal was rejected on the grounds that it would reduce the number of major carriers in the UK to only three, in a similar vein to the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States that's currently awaiting approval. With such a huge planned influx of cash and resource usage rights falling through, it's anybody's guess as to how Three will handle the upcoming 5G arms race.