KKTC Telsim was the first GSM operator in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It was granted licence in August 1995, and started service accepting subscribers on 23 October 1995.
The company was a subsidiary of Telsim Group in Turkey, part of the Uzan Group. When Telsim was taken over by the Vodafone Group on 23 August 2006, it became a subsidiary of the global Vodafone Group.
The company still operates under the brand KKTC Telsim in Northern Cyprus, although in Turkey Telsim has been rebranded Vodafone. This is due to Vodafone Group having a partnership agreement with the Cytamobile-Vodafone network in Southern Cyprus. The exclusive agreement on the use of the Vodafone brandname covers the entire territory claimed by the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, thus including Northern Cyprus so the use of the Vodafone brand by a company other than Cytamobile is not allowed on the entire island of Cyprus.
KKTC Telsim has approx. 150,000 subscribers. KKTC Telsim competes with KKTC Turkcell, a subsidiary of the Turkcell network in Turkey. Although Turkcell arrived some 4 years later, it quickly overtook KKTC Telsim to take a larger market share. As of June 2008 Turkcell has approx. 200,000 subscribers in Northern Cyprus.
Mobile TV Advertisement of KKTC Telsim.
KKTC Telsim suffers due to a poor brand image. During the first 4 years of operation Telsim abused its monopolistic position, building a poor reputation for the brand. Turkcell was able to capitalise on this, combining better customer service and marketing to quickly overtake them.
Vodafone not rebranding KKTC Telsim has left it as a stale brand. It is widely believed[by whom?] that should Vodafone rebrand KKTC Telsim and make it part of the Vodafone Passport group of countries, it would quickly gain popularity among the many thousands of expatriate British residents and 100,000s of tourists that visit North Cyprus from UK every year.