Eircell

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Eircell
A Ryanair Boeing 737-200 aircraft in Eircell livery in 2000.

Eircell established the first Irish mobile cellular network defined by the access codes 088 (analogue TACS system) in 1985 as part of Telecom Éireann until its transfer to Vodafone in 2001.

In the late 1980s, early adopters of the service numbered in their hundreds rather than thousands and paid handsomely for the phones that were available at the time through a network of independent retailers. Phone prices ranged from IR£1500 to IR£2000 and 'subscribers' were typically politicians or wealthy business men. The market leading phone manufacturers in the early years of the Irish (TACS) market were Nokia and Motorola. Other manufacturers included Mitsubishi,...?.

In the early 1990s in response to negative publicity about security compromises on the TACS system, a common theme with other networks, Eircell introduced Ireland's first encrypted cellular phone, a Kokusai. It retailed in the region of IR£1400. Sales were poor partly because Eircell (as the network provider) was not in the business of selling phones and partly because switching from encrypted to non encrypted mode was 'messy' and the quality of voice over encryption was very poor (likened to talking in a toilet). It's fair to say that the implementation of encryption on the analogue network was stretching the technology to its limits.

In the early 1990s as phone prices dropped and the network rolled out to more of the country, sales took off reaching a milestone 100,000 subscribers around 1995.

In 1997 Eircell launched Ireland's first prepaid mobile phone service called 'Ready To Go'.

Then in 1998 it launched it's digital GSM 900 network (access code 087) that quickly took hold as users rapidly switched over to the new digital technology. There is a story that goes something like... When the original TACS network was eventually quietly switched off (year?), nobody noticed.

Eircell underwent a major branding exercise prior to its acquisition by the Vodafone group in late 2000. The main branding was to associate a shade of deep purple with the company. When Vodafone re-branded with its trademark shade of red, it was commented that "red is the new purple".

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