Is the world saying c u l8er to texts?

According to the New York Times, the allure of the text message has started to ‘fade’. In some countries around the world, it says, the SMS has fallen victim to the many and varied alternative services that have been made accessible by smartphones.

It’s a startling prediction, especially when the meagre text has become so integral to the way that we use our mobiles, but I’m not sure it’s one that we’re ready to accept here at Three.

There’s no doubt about it, data is the future – you only need to look at how much of it our customers’ managed to use over the New Year period. But the rise of BBM, iMessage, Whatsapp and the like haven’t quite spelled the end for traditional SMSing for us yet. Texting is part of a rich choice of communication and not a substitution for something else.

In fact, our research shows that when it comes to choosing a price plan, a decent bundle of texts is still important to customers. And in contrast to the figures included in the New York Times article, we actually saw a 28% rise in the number of SMSs sent on New Year’s Eve – 46 million on 31st December 2011 compared to 36 million the year before.

We’re also seeing a rise in communication from businesses to their customers via text – “your car is ready for collection” and “don’t forget your appointment”.

So as far as we’re concerned, we’re not quite ready to wave goodbye to our 160 character friend just yet. Of course, we recognise the importance and rise in popularity of those new services, and we’ve lead the way by including all-you-can-eat data on our smartphone plans so you never have to worry about the cost, but a text allowance will remain a feature of our plans for as long as our customers tell us they want one.

We’re not saying c u l8er just yet ;-).

67 Responses to Is the world saying c u l8er to texts?
  1. Moderator: Sedge

    @ Steph – Yes, we have no current plans to remove our all-you-can-eat data plans :)

  2. Steph

    i’ve heard something about the ASA introducing new guidelines which should from April onwards: “’unlimited’ can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage”.

    will 3 keep the ayce data from april onwards?

  3. Steph

    i’ve heard something about the ASA introducing new guidelines which should from April onwards: “’unlimited’ can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage”.

    will 3 keep the ayce data from april onwards?

  4. Ali T

    Also just wanted to say to those asking about data limitations… my broadband router went on the fritz last weekend. No internet… luckily my HTC phone turns into a wi-fi hotspot so I switched it on & was happily using it with 2 computers & a PS3 hooked into it. Speeds were 54mbps which is ironcically exactly the same as my normal broadband providers speeds. Spent 4 days using phone as hotspot with no problems. Heavy use during entire time as I’ve two kids and now I’ve got my phone back I’m still able to connect to the internet on it so no problems with data limits there. We love 3 in this house now :-) on AYCE

  5. Moderator: Johanna

    @Steph – No, not at all! If you have any speed/network issues give us a shout and we’ll take a look for you.

  6. Steph

    @Johanna – Great! So my speeds won’t be restricted after downloading a certain amount? :)

  7. Moderator: Johanna

    @Steph – If you’re looking to get a phone plan with us you can enjoy AYCE data, so no need for a soft cap or a hard cap! If PAYG you can get AYCE included for £15 a month, SIM-only deals too and with any of our phone contract plans you can get AYCE data added for £3 a month.

  8. Moderator: Johanna

    @Lloyd – *sigh* No It’s not true, tis all the rumour mill working over time. Thanks for alerting us to this article though, we’ll have a chat to the team at Electric Pig.

  9. Moderator: Johanna

    @Lloyd – Just had a peek and there’s an upgrade happening on Feb 9, due for completion on the 11th. There’s also a new mast in planning but we don’t have a date for that yet. I hope this helps a little!

  10. Ali T

    @hip59 – I think that perhaps @Sunjay has taken my suggestion and turned my peaceful revolution suggestion into more of a battle cry to take up arms :-) !

    The point of my original comment (& @stew’s) for that matter was that we are perfectly happy with the idea of losing a percentage of our inclusive texts and minutes in order to make the AYCE package perform better for us with the inclusion of mms and/or video calling for those whose smartphones support the feature, and that there is a likelyhood that there are actually other like minded people who would not be opposed to the package being changed to support that.

    It was never a demand, it was a suggestion that all the like minded people reading this blog contact others that they know who are also on 3 and also ask them to contact 3 and make their opinion on the subject known and as such the moderators have taken notice of the people within this blog and have (hopefully) passed our comments along to the ‘powers that be’ to investigate the possibilities available, As you pointed out yourself in the blog on 22/1/12 ’160 letters in a text should increase to double that to allow greater use and to increase take up rather than the current 160 limit for one text. Yes i know you can type more than 160 letter but you are billed more and BBM and others dont have a limt’ hence my question as to why 3 don’t include mms in their packages.
    Think I’ve said enough…. Moderators 3:1 is the perfect ratio :-)

  11. Steph

    Hello. Is there a ‘soft’ downloading cap with Three? I.e. If you hit that limit, you wouldn’t be charged extra, you could still email and browse the internet but file downloads and video would be restricted. Is there anything like this because im really looking to join!

  12. Lloyd

    Another question: I read on the following link that Three’s traffic control efforts kick in at about 80GB. Is this true? Sorry for the amount of questions!

  13. Lloyd

    Hey guys. I was told that some work is going on at my post code for either a new mast or for an existing mast. Could you tell me what work is going on in my area at the moment and when it’ll be completed? My post code is SA10 [removed by Mod].

  14. Moderator: Kaz

    @James Vincent – Thanks for the comments, I’ll pass them on for consideration.

  15. James Vincent

    3 should defiantly throw in some mms and certainly some video calling minutes, I’m with you for two broadband accounts, when my current mobile contract ends I’d make the move for mms and video calling minutes.

  16. Moderator: Johanna

    @JoSun – Nope, no limits at all :)

  17. JoSun

    Hi. Is there an excessive usage policy for The One Plan? I.e. Will I get blocked if I stream too much TV?

  18. Shajjad

    Ofcourse its too early to say bye to texts. Though twitter and other social networking websites are gaining popularity and that people are updating their daily routines there, I think it is still to early to say bye to texts. Its importance can never be paralleled by others, not recently atleast

  19. Sam

    Its all bout TWITTER & BBM now!!! There’s no need for texts ;)

  20. Mohamed

    Guess we’ll just have to wait and see



  22. Hip59

    I note this comment: ” demand that we should have MMS include in our text allowance. 1 MMS = 3 text.. It is not right that we still paying for this. Please everybody send a message on this blog website, three customer services, tweet a message to @ and text 333 demanding this MMS allowance 1 mms=3 text.”

    Sorry to disapoint you, but you dont have the right to demand anything. Three plans are verry well known and in fact in most cases far outdo other networks in respect of data and incl calls and texts no other network has matched the three one plan.

    As a user you took out either a contract or PAYG on the three network they currently dont include a mix of calls texts and MMS, now three may well look at this , but you dont have the right to demand it.

  23. Moderator: Kaz

    @Sunjay Bhogal – Thanks for your comments, afraid there are no plans at the moment but I will pass these onto the most relevant team for consideration.

  24. Sunjay Bhogal

    @stew @three I demand that we should have MMS include in our text allowance. 1 MMS = 3 text.. It is not right that we still paying for this. Please everybody send a message on this blog website, three customer services, tweet a message to @threeuk and text 333 demanding this MMS allowance 1 mms=3 text.

  25. Moderator: Kaz

    @Lloyd – I can confirm All You can Eat data is unlimited and is not capped.

  26. Lloyd

    Could I please have an answer to my question? Is it true that Three have a soft cap of 450GB usage per month of which after you hit this (if you can) you get a call from the call centre to see what you’re using the data for and if it’s for personal use?

  27. AJE

    @Moderator Kaz – many thanks for looking into this. Much appreciated. Looking forward to the upgrade.

  28. Moderator: Kaz

    @AJE – Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. We’ve investigated your issue and can confirm Skype on Three will work on Belle and it’s just been approved for release.

  29. Lloyd

    Is it true that Three have a soft cap of 450GB usage per month of which after you hit this (if you can) you get a call from the call centre to see what you’re using the data for and if it’s for personal use?

  30. stew

    @Ali T, great idea:-)

  31. Moderator: Sedge

    @ Karl Hobson – We can confirm that we are investigating bringing femtocells to Three. At the moment we can’t commit to a timescale but our intention is to make it available for our customers in the future.

  32. Moderator: Sedge

    @ David M – Great to hear that all your New Years messages came through :) Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use your Voice and Text SIM in a Mobile Broadband Device, as part of your T&C’s you’re not allowed to SIM swap. If you want to tether your phone to your iPad I’d recommend signing up to The One Plan or the One Month rolling SIM so you can tether.

  33. Ali T

    @stew – Maybe we should start a revolution at 3 (peacefully of course) where all the customers write into the blog or send a free text to 333 and politely suggest the ayce tariff is upgraded to include 3500 text and 500 mms (exchange ratio 3texts :1mms ) and on the video calling have an option to use 1000 3to3 minutes for 250 video calls instead if your phone supports it. Then it will be a world class package and all that 3 will need to sort out will be the international calls and roaming charges!

  34. David M

    The only problem I see with all these mobile phone manufacturers taking control of messaging is that it is no longer unified I mean seriously I have iMessage that send to all my friends with iPhones then I have whatsapp that I use to message all those cheap people who don’t want to use SMS, it’s a nightmare if these company’s want to have these abilities then they should come up with some sort of protocol to keep messages in the one inbox etc.
    Also hats of to 3 on new years eve/day my messages all got sent mere seconds past midnight when all my friends on other networks FAILED haha.

    On a side note and off topic is there any issues with me getting either a one plan sim or PAYG equivelant and using that in an iPad do I can ditch my soon to expire mobile broadband of 500mb (useless in an iPad), I hope I am allowed to do this considering how much of a drain on my iPhone tethering just to watch tv.

  35. Tom Talent

    Pro Video call mins for £15+ bundles defo

  36. Karl Hobson

    Hi guys, Have to admit i never get anywhere near my 5000 txt allowance but is MMS such a big deal when we can post direct to Face Book or attach pictures or even video as an email at no extra cost, it seems that MMS is actually almost out of date, but if we manage how we send things, it can still be done without a charge.
    been with 3 mobile a number of years now and totally pleased with there service, be nice for a femto cell in the house, but i believe this is a technology that they are not going forward with? any comments appreciated. Thank you

  37. William

    I agree with Sunjay Bhogal , when 3 first laucnched, video call was a big thing, but now it seems to be dead.

  38. AJE

    On a related issue, I used SKYPE on Three to pass on IMs to those also on SKYPE, partly because my otherwise convenient tariff is rather antiquated and has a low text allowance.

    My NOKIA N8 is due a major software update to Symbian/NOKIA Belle but I’ve read that SKYPE does not presently work on Belle. Can you confirm whether this is indeed the case and, if so, how long it is likely to be before this is corrected.

  39. Moderator: Kaz

    @Sunjay Bhogal – I will pass your comments onto the relevant department for consideration.

  40. Sunjay Bhogal

    Agree with some of the comments on here, I have 5000 text as part of the One Plan, why not cut this down by a few thousand and offer us some free MMS and Video calls allowance.

  41. stew

    @Ali t, I was one of the customers who suggested about the trade off from sms to mms, hell I’d be happy to lose 2000 text for 500 mms

  42. rushden9

    Hi again, Just a couple of things loving my galaxy s2 on three with ayce as you will know it’s great. Now the critisism the link for the blog on the home page is a dead link. also I use google crome on my computer and there is an app called crome to phone brill if you are looking at something and you have got to go.We are looking at moving house so all day long the wifee is sending me web pages (knew I should’nt have told her about it).

  43. Moderator: Johanna

    @Ali T – Not a bad idea at all and one that a few customers have suggested… We’ll feed that back to the contract team :)

  44. Moderator: Johanna

    @hip59 – Really good point! Thanks for sharing that with us.

  45. Moderator: Johanna

    @K – Thanks for your feedback, it’s not something we had plans for but we’ll feed it back to the correct team :-)

  46. Moderator: Johanna

    @Callum – If you received an SMS then it’s very likely the network improvements will impact you, let us know how you get on :)

  47. Ali T

    Good question that, why don’t 3 offer mms as part of the 5000 text message bundle. I am pretty sure that others like myself would be willing to sacrifice 3 text per 1 mms like they do with inclusive 02 text bundles & let’s face it its not as if the 3 network can’t take the data usage. I really think that 3 should seriously consider updating the all you can eat data packages so that they are TRULY inclusive & add mms into them and make more of their customers really happy with the packages that they are on. Unhappy customers tend to tell 8x more people the exact reason why they are unhappy remember!

  48. hip59

    I knon a lot of young ppl use text, I myself use it and BBM, some unemployed ppl will use it to keep costs down and I agree I get textx about my bills or car serviing which can be useful.

    maybe what should happen is the limit ot 160 letters in a text should increase to double that to allow greater use and to increase take up rather than the current 160 limit for one text. Yes i know you can type more than 160 letter but you are billed more and BBM and others dont have a limt

  49. Callum

    I got a text saying that the network in the DT1 area is being ‘improved’ this week will this mean that I will get a better signal? :-)

  50. K.

    I want to see the cost of video calls cut. So many phones have the capability to video call but no one dose it because of cost or scared of being cought out with hidden cost. I dont think people will ever stop texting but why not cut some of the text from the 3 plans and replace with some video call minutes.

  51. stew

    @foofan, you’ll find that it happens if you are forwarding a long message, sometimes I receive jokes which I like to pass on and its annoying when it converts to mms. Incidentally when I joined Three back in 2006 they had a tariff that included a bundle of mms messages and video calling, how come we don’t have that available as an option anymore?

  52. G. Manton

    It would be a sad day if we no longer used SMS’s. It’s a great way of keeping in touch and although technology is always changing new doesn’t always mean better. As long as our phone providers don’t take our choice away from us,i am happy to continue to text.

  53. FooFan73


    I noticed this the other day for the first time on my Galaxy S2.

    It doesn’t always do it though, sometimes the phone will let me send long texts which only count as 2 or 3 standard text messages. My only guess is I tend to use the S2′s built in smileys in text messages, maybe they count as MMS ONLY if you go over 1 text message’s worth of characters?

  54. Moderator: Kaz

    @Kunal Joshi – Have you checked out our Careers page on

  55. Digit

    Like Bob Cross said, as long as there’s no other way to communicate in the way which text allows us to, it’s always going to be in widespread frequent use. You’ve got to bear the recession in mind too – could account for the sudden drop in text messages adgmg sent.

  56. Kunal Joshi

    I am trying to apply for job in Three since 6 months. I even have experience in the field of Sales executive. in selling of cell phones.

    I am a student here and i am entitled here to work for 20 hours/ week.

    Please guide me if there any other way to apply???

    Thanking You
    Kunal Joshi

  57. mike Dougherty

    good 4 you three,i agree the txt message is and always will be important part of mobile phone useage simple to use especiallyin a emergency when you run out of credit!

  58. Bob Cross

    @stew, to switch to Handcent (assuming you like it of course) there’s various instructions around – most notably in the FAQ section on the Handcent site (see However, a better explanation (imho) is given on the Android Forums at since that one also explains the process for dumping the Messaging app from the home screen (although that’s for an HTC Hero).

    Hope this helps, and I’m envious of your S2, I’m “slumming it” with an old SE X10. :(

  59. stew

    @bob cross can you tell me how to set handcent as my default text messaging program?

  60. Bob Cross

    Can’t see texts being dropped – mainly because there’s no simple, cheap and cross-platform replacement available at the moment. In fact, as noted in the article, I’m actually seeing *more* use of text messages by companies to confirm appointments, remind when payments are due, give service statuses. I remember reading something that we’d all be using instant messaging by now, but that’s not happened has it?

    @stew – I know it’s a work around, but there’s 3rd party messaging apps (Handcent SMS comes to mind immediately – mainly because it’s free!) that word counts your texts – see for examples. Maybe that’d be the answer if the inbuilt messaging app doesn’t do it? Oh, and there’s a good feature comparison at

  61. Jonny-MK

    I’m not a big text message user but I believe it is as universal on phones as e-mail is on computers. The problem with BBM is that only blackberry users can message other blackberry users, same goes with iMessage on Apple iOS devices.

    Let standardistion prevail over corporation innovation!

  62. james vincent

    SMS should never die. Some of us dont keep our phones data connection on all the time. Due to battery life & maybe data allowance. Yeah Whatsapp is great, certainly when my mate is away with work so he can avoid roaming costs. and other messaging apps. But our beloved SMS is still the most important at the end of the day.

  63. Moderator: Kaz

    @al – Sounds like you may have coverage issues in your area. Please can you supply a full postcode so I can check.

  64. Moderator: Kaz

    @stew – Let me look into this for you.

  65. stew

    What I find annoying and I don’t know how to change this is that if I exceed the maximum number of characters the text message gets converted to a multimedia message which I don’t want. I’m on Samsung galaxy s2 can someone tell me how to change this?

  66. al

    all good having a new and fast broadband when the dongle has found a fast signal ,but why does it choose the slower network and drop out internet altogerther can the mobile dongle be set to hspa and not wcdma ?big al

  67. Anowanul Kabir

    There are times when I find myself texting to people I don’t wanna talk with but still convey some information. Also there are times when I know my gf/friend/colleague might be busy at work and so can’t talk but still send/receive messages. Txting won’t go away so soon. And just because 10 million less txt messages were sent this year doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not important. Please don’t abolish txting

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