3G service preps for 'bigger push.'

The music service operated by 3U.K., Britain's pioneering 3G (third-generation) network, is now being powered by U.S.-based Groove Mobile. Groove Mobile replaces French-originated service provider Musiwave.

Bringing in Groove Mobile is part of 3's ambition to boost the music-related services available to its 3.75 million U.K. subscribers.

3U.K. customers download a combined 1 million-plus music audio tracks and music videos a month, according to the company.

With a catalog comprising more than 500,000 tracks from the four major labels and numerous independents, 3U.K. will for the first time supplying dual downloads to both mobile handsets and PC thanks to the Groove Mobile partnership.

Tracks, priced at $0.99 ($1.88) each, can then be transferred from the PC to mobile phones and vice versa, and to portable digital players or burned to blank CDs. Additionally, customers have access to music-related content such as album artwork, chart information and the means to preview before buying.

Moreover, the service is now supported by 42 handsets, compared to a mere handful when the service was powered in-house and, later, by Musiwave.

Adam Sexton, Groove's chief marketing officer, tells Billboard.biz: "One reason 3 outsourced the service to Groove was to upscale it; 3 is preparing for a bigger push."

Groove set up the first U.S.-based full-track download mobile-music store via the carrier Sprint, and also offers services to mobile-music offerings by operators in Canada, continental Europe and Asia-Pacific.