3G has been hailed as a major revolution for mobile phones, allowing users to download video clips and colour photos, as well as browsing the internet on their handsets.

The crisis facing 3G has intensified in recent months as operators such as Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica axed plans and other firms had to come to terms with the burden of debt they carry for 3G licenses.

The fact that those pledged to roll out services have talked about long delays before services will be ready has compounded the crisis.