Thursday 5 February 2015

A brief history of the UK mobile telecoms market for the uninitiated

BT created Cellnet, which became BT Cellnet and, as part of BT Wireless, was spun off and listed as mmO2, operating as O2. Later O2 was bought by Telefonica (of Spain).

Then there were Vodafone, Orange and Mercury.

Vodafone was born from Racal, a UK maker of military radio technology.

Orange was launched by Hutchison Whampoa (of Hong Kong). Later it was sold to Mannesmann (of Germany). Vodafone acquired Mannesmann and then sold Orange to France Telecom (of France, of course).

Mercury was a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless. It became One2One and was then sold off to T-Mobile (of Germany) and rebranded T-Mobile.

In the meantime, 3 was set up by Hutchison Whampoa.

Then Orange UK merged with the UK division of T-Mobile to create EE.

Telefonica has put O2 up for sale. BT was in the running but has just acquired EE instead. Hutchison Whampoa is in the running for O2. The O2 network in Ireland has already been acquired by Hutchison Whampoa and merged with 3.