|Headquarters||Newbury, Berkshire, England|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Jeroen Hoencamp (CEO)|
Internet service provider
|Parent||Vodafone Group plc|
Vodafone UK is a provider of telecommunications services in the United Kingdom, and a part of the Vodafone Group, the world's second-largest mobile phone company. As of March 2014, Vodafone UK has 19.5 million subscribers and is the largest mobile telecommunications network nationally before EE and O2 .
In 1981, Racal Electronics Group won its bid for the private sector UK Cellular licence, and created Racal Telecomms Division. The same year, Racal formed a joint venture with Millicom named 'Racal Vodafone'. Vodafone made the first ever cellular telephone call in the United Kingdom on 1 January 1985, from St Katharine Docks to Newbury, and launched the UK's first cellular network later that year. 'Vodapage' was launched two years later, providing 80% of the United Kingdom's population with a paging service.
Racal Telecom was demerged from Racal Electronics in 1991, becoming Vodafone Group, and introduced the country's first GSM mobile phone network the same year. The company launched 'Vodata' in 1994, providing digital data, fax and a text messaging service. Vodafone also began working with Globalstar to develop and launch a satellite to provide a satellite phone service.
On 5 January 1999, Vodafone UK connected its 5 millionth customer.
The first 3G voice call in the UK was made in 2001 on the Vodafone UK network, with an initial network of 30 base stations in the Thames Valley. In 2003, Vodafone introduced the 'Speaking Phone', a phone for blind & visually impaired users. Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G was launched in 2005, a data card that uses the network's 3G capabilities to connect laptop users to the internet.
Vodafone UK won Mobile Retailer’s 'National Retailer of the Year' in 2005 and was awarded 'Best Network' in the 2010 Mobile News and Mobile Awards.
In May 2011, Vodafone and JustGiving launched 'JustTextGiving', which allows mobile phone user to donate between £1 and £10 to a registered charity using a SMS message, which is paid for by the donor through reverse SMS billing. Vodafone invested £5 million to ensure that charities do not incur any set-up costs, or commissions deducted from donations, ensuring that they receive 100% of donations and Gift Aid.
Vodafone and O2 signed a deal in June 2012 which will see the two companies 'pool' their network technology, creating a single national grid of 18,500 transmitter sites. Both networks will continue to carry their own independent mobile spectrum.
On 20 February 2013, Ofcom announced that Vodafone had been awarded spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands for 4G LTE coverage, bidding around £790 million for the spectrum. The service became available to customers in London on 29 August, and will expand to a further twelve cities by the end of 2013.
Radio frequency summary
|800 MHz||LTE (band 20)||4G|
|2600 MHz||LTE (band 7)||4G|
Vodafone operates a retail estate, with around 365 stores that sell mobile phone handsets, Vodafone contracts & SIM offers.
A 'Tech Team' section (similar to Apple's Genius Bar) was rolled out in November 2011 to Vodafone Stores across the country, offering free advice to all customers of the mobile network. Vodafone also introduced the 'RED Box' to its stores at the same time, which allows phone users to transfer contents between handsets.
Since 2010, Vodafone UK have operated a 'VIP' reward scheme as part of a partnership with Live Nation, in which customers can access tickets 48 hours before release for major UK events including T in the Park, Isle of Wight Festival, Reading & Leeds festival, London Fashion Week and the British Grand Prix. Some of the music festivals involved in the scheme have their own 'Vodafone VIP' areas, available to customers by winning certain competitions. In May 2013 the Vodafone VIP Mobile Application developed by Invitation Digital was launched on both iPhone and Android platforms. In January 2014 Vodafone announced the closure of Vodafone VIP with immediate effect.
Vodafone UK launched a loyalty scheme named 'Rewardz' in late 2011, accompanied by a £3million marketing campaign featuring two CGI bees named Jack and Mike voiced by Dan Antopolski and Karl Theobald. Each time a pay-as-you-go customer tops-up their balance, they are given the chance to either enter for an instant reward (such as a discount on a film from Blockbuster, or free credit toward their balance) or to collect 'Pointz' that can be added to their account towards a bigger prize.
Vodafone UK came under criticism in June 2011 after they scrapped their fair-use policy on data charges, meaning those without monthly allowances would pay 50p for every 10MB of data used.
Loss of network
A break-in at the Vodafone exchange centre in Basingstoke on 28 February 2011 left several hundreds of thousands of customers in the west of London without network access, after burglars stole computer equipment and damaged network hardware.
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