Handset shortage threatens to ruin 3's Christmas

22 Sep 2003

Hutchison Whampoa’s target of attracting one million UK customers by the end of the year to its third-generation mobile phone service ‘3’ is looking increasingly optimistic following reports from retailers that supplies of its flagship NEC 606 handset have all but run out. Three months ago 3 introduced a range of tariff packages and video-enabled handset deals which dramatically undercut rates being touted by its competitors. The eye-opening offers proved instantly popular with subscribers, who until recently were signing up at a rate of around 15,000 a week. However, many of the high street’s major airtime resellers have now apparently run out of the NEC 606 terminal, which Hutchison is planning to replace with the smaller and more powerful NEC 616. However, it has been rumoured that the 616 may not be on the shelves in time for the hectic Christmas retail period, leaving analysts to predict that 3 will achieve only around 500,000 customers by the year-end.

United Kingdom