U.K. carrier 3 will offer mobile phone subscribers the repertoire of Universal Music Group via Groove Mobile's off-portal distribution platform.

The off-portal move means the customers will be able to download UMG tracks without having to subscribe to the operators' own branded portals.

They can download tracks after sending a short-code text message, which takes them directly to the track or music channel required.

"The text takes you directly to the song, instead of going through the numerous menus and sub-menus of a carrier's portal," Adam Sexton, Groove Mobile's chief marketing officer, explains to Billboard.biz.

The UMG/3 U.K. deal follows a similar agreement with Sony BMG U.K. and Vodafone about a couple of months ago. Now, both Vodafone and 3U.K. subscribers have access to UMG and Sony BMG songs.

Since August, Sony BMG has been making releases of Elvis Presley singles available to Vodafone subscribers off-portal. From next month, both Sony BMG and UMG will use the platform to offer new releases by major artists until the Christmas holidays.

Pricing will depend on the flat-rate packages offered by the respective operators, which could be based on flat fee per track or a monthly rate.

Sexton says Groove Mobile is in talks with the other U.K. operators, Orange, T-Mobile and O2 about using the off-deck platform.