Following on from the issue I posted earlier, on travelling abroad I have discovered something extra about 3G.
I was led to believe that 3G requires a USIM rather than a SIM. This is certainly what Orange UK requires and to get a 3G USIM you need to either buy a 3G Orange branded phone on contract or get a 3G PAYG SIM (with no option to transfer the number to contract). i.e. you can’t get 3G on Orange UK with a SIM free 3G phone .
Travelling in France with my plain “2G” SIM that only gives me 2G on Orange UK, I discovered the phone locked onto Orange France but got a 3G signal! Same with Orange Switzerland and another roaming parter.
Back in the UK, a bit more googling and it turns out USIMs have nothing to do with it at all!
The problem is Orange UK have used 3G as a way of pushing Orange branded phones and moving customers onto USIMs. Other than that, there’s no technical reason to use a USIM for 3G, as is demonstrated outside the UK.
Other UK networks in fact it appears allow access to their 3G network with a regular SIM.
Still the problem remains that I can’t get 3G on Orange contract without buying an Orange branded phone (which I won’t do, due to lock downs and high monthly costs on the high-end phones ultimately costing as much or more as a SIM free phone).