In many ways 2003 was the year that wasn't for third-generation (3G) mobile services as all but pioneer newcomer 3 postponed launches of their next-generation networks.
Instead of fast data services, existing operators turned to enhancements such as camera phones to woo new customers to their GSM and GPRS networks.
Even before 3 had launched the first 3G mobile service in the UK, there were already fears that virus writers would turn their fiendish skills to the new technology.
Researchers predicted that by 2005, a malicious attack on a next-generation phone would have the potential to infect almost a third of mobile users within just three days.
In March, 3 launched what is still the only 3G service in the UK. But, despite the excitement at being able to make video calls, some early users were disappointed by the quality and the short battery life of the first 3G handsets.
And critics were concerned that the uptake of 3G services would be slow because of the potentially high cost of subscriptions.
3's more established rivals remained coy about when they were going to launch their own services, preferring to see how the upstart did, although they were making some interesting noises about how their own services would look.
The other operators said that they would wait for improved handsets before launching commercial networks of their own, with some looking at alternative technologies.
They may have been wise to wait. Teething troubles meant that 3's service received more customer complaints than any other mobile service between 1 April and 1 October, according to Oftel figures, with 2.97 complaints for every 1,000 customers.
On top of this, the developer of Japanese mobile service i-Mode, which offers cheaper picture and voice services than 3G, announced that it was in talks with UK mobile operators to launch the service in the UK.
But, as 2003 came to a close, things started to look better again for the mobile operators. With predictions of bumper festive sales of mobile phones, analysts were saying that 2004 would be the breakthrough year for 3G.
The rising number of 3G handsets in use will encourage content and application developers by giving them a decent-sized market to aim at, the analysts said.
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