Three, the Hutchison-owned mobile operator that splashed on to the UK mobile scene as a greenfield 3G entrant in 2003, has lost its CEO of the past four years, Kevin Russell. David Dyson, who had been the COO, has now taken the top position.
As CEO, Russell, a longtime Hutchison employee, has overseen some of the operator’s more disruptive launches. They included being the first (and for a long time, the only) operator to partner with Skype — launching special phones with hotkeys to access the service, and then eventually offering all Skype calls on the network free (much of this happening while some operators were still blocking the service on their networks). Its content deals extended also to being the first operator to partner with music service Spotify.
He was also involved in orchestrating a groundbreaking network sharing deal with T-Mobile UK (now part of Everything Everywhere) to extend its footprint and lower costs, and has been an outspoken critic against Ofcom and how it chooses to approach 4G spectrum auctions to look out for smaller competitors like itself.
And when the rest of the UK mobile industry was moving towards caps for data, Three came out with all-you-can-eat tariffs. Today, it still offers some of the lowest tariffs in the market, along with competitively-priced smartphones to use them, of all the operators in the UK.
Despite all this, Three has struggled to advance from its place as the fifth-largest operator in the saturated UK market — although under his leadership it did move into profitability in 2010, and it has remained so. It currently has 7.2 million subscribers.
Like Russell, Dyson has been working for Hutchison for years, initally coming to Three UK in 2006. He has also worked for Hutchison in Sweden and Australia, largely in CFO roles before taking up the position of COO in the UK in 2009.
According to an emailed release from the company, Russell is moving back to Australia with his family; it is not clear whether he will continue to work for Hutchison in another capacity from there.