The first mobile call in the UK was made by Vodafone at a few minutes past midnight on 1 January 1985. Since then, they grew to become the biggest network in Europe and the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. By 2000, half of the UK population owned a mobile and a third of these were connected to Vodafone.
Vodafone’s story began in 1982 when The Racal Electronics Group won its bid for the private sector UK Cellular licence. They set up a new network which they named ‘Vodafone’ to signify the ability to transmit voice and data services over mobile phones. By 1987, Vodafone was recognised as the largest mobile network in the world and they launched Vodapage which provided 80% of the UK population with a paging network. In 1991, Vodafone, in partnership with Telecom Finland, were busy developing technology to enable the world’s first international roaming call. Having achieved this Vodafone and Telecom Finland signed the world’s first international GSM roaming agreement.
Surprisingly it wasn’t until 1993 that Vodafone opened its first High Street store and also, in 1996, the first network operator in the UK to launch a Pre-Pay analogue package. Vodafone continued to grow in size and by 1999 not only had they signed their five millionth customer in the UK but were also part of a merger between Vodafpne Group PLC and Airtouch Communications Inc to create Vodafone Airtouch PLC. Vodafone acquired Mannesmann AG in 2000 which practically doubled the size of the Vodafone Group and made it the ‘largest mobile telecommunications company and one of the top 10 companies, by market capitalization, in the world’.
Over the next few years, Vodafone continued to launch new products and services including the first commercial European GPRS roaming service, Mobile Office and Vodafone live!, which by 2006 had attracted 10 million customers in only 3 years.
Vodafone believes there are four reasons why their customers have chosen them as their mobile network provider:
- Vision – to remain the worlds leading mobile communications provider, enabling individuals, businesses and communities to be more connected in a mobile world
- Investment – to ensure their network lets customers make more calls from more places
- Value for money – have reduced costs more than five times in the last three years which has meant savings for the customer of around 50%
- Customer Service – from call handling and billing to coverage and capacity, a high level of customer service is required throughout
In summary, the Vodafone story is ‘one of investment, innovation and award-winning customer service, but above all it’s one of growth and the ability to deliver the tremendous benefits of mobile communications, not just in the UK but worldwide’. The future sees Vodafone entering new uncharted territory as next generation technology opens up a whole new range of possibilities.
Vodafone, The Racal Electronics Group, Telecom Finland, Vodapage, Airtouch Communications Inc, Mannesmann AG, mobile phone, mobile telecommunications, GPRS, Vodafone live!