Our company history
Vodafone through the years
The Vodafone story so far
We're one of the world's leading mobile communications providers, operating in 26 countries and in partnership with networks in over 55 more. Across the world, we have almost 444 million customers and around 19.5 million in the UK. We made the first ever mobile phone call on 1 January 1985 from London to our Newbury HQ. Still located in Newbury, we now employ over 13,000 people across the UK.
Ours is a story of investment, innovation and award-winning customer service. Take a look at the highlights of our pioneering achievements.
- The Wortwell Bell Inn, in Harleston, South Norfolk is named the first rural community hub to benefit from 3G mobile coverage as part of our Community Indoor Sure Signal programme
- Vodafone creates 2,100 jobs in the UK, part of a long-term commitment to UK investment
- We launch TOBi, an artificial intelligence chatbot that acts as a virtual agent – offering customers a quicker web chat service
- Vodafone is the first UK operator to abolish roaming charges across 50 European destinations, with the launch of Vodafone Global Roaming
- In partnership with the British Library, Vodafone commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, making some of the earliest and rarest editions of his plays available to all in digital format
- We become the first UK telecoms company to abolish line rental for broadband
- We launch a scheme to create up to 100 rural community hubs – based in pubs, village halls and community run shops. These will provide reliable 3G coverage to rural ‘not-spots’
- We are named ‘UK’s #1 network for voice’ and ‘London’s #1 network’ by P3 Connect
- We celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UK’s first mobile phone call made on our network.
- We launch Vodafone Broadband for UK customers. More than 22 million premises sign up for our high-speed broadband and home phone service, supported by our innovative Connect mobile app.
- Vodafone launches Wi Fi Calling, allowing customers in areas with limited network coverage, or who struggle to get an indoor signal, to make voice calls over Wi Fi.
- We sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant, as part of our commitment to proactively encourage the recruitment of ex-service personnel
- Prime Minister David Cameron visits our Newbury HQ to launch our £100-million retail expansion, including 1,400 new jobs and 150 new stores
- After just a year, our 4G network covers over 300 cities, towns and districts, as well as thousands of smaller communities across the UK, and the Eurotunnel
- Vodafone WorldTraveller launches, enabling Pay monthly customers to take their existing UK minutes, texts and data with them to eight destinations across the globe, for just £5 a day
- We kick-off the Rural Open Sure Signal programme, offering 100 rural communities across the UK the chance to get 3G coverage for the first time
- We successfully test Voice over LTE, a technology allowing voice calls to be carried across our 4G data network
- HD (High Definition) Voice rolls out across the UK, providing crystal clear audio quality on calls
- We acquire 140 Phones4U stores and hire 900 of its employees after the retailer goes into administration
- We introduce our first 4G phone, the BlackBerry Z10
- We bring unlimited minutes and texts to Pay as you go with the Red Freedom Freebee
- Network investment gets a boost to bring our fixed and mobile infrastructure together
- We launch our 4G network in London
- We acquire Cable and Wireless Worldwide plc – allowing them to provide both fixed and mobile services.
- We strengthen our network collaboration with Telefónica UK and pool basic network infrastructure to create one national grid.
- Vodafone Eurotraveller is launched – enabling customers to use their tariff abroad for just £3 a day.
- Vodafone Red is launched – bringing unlimited calls, texts and loads of data to our Pay monthly customers.
- We launch JustTextGiving - providing hundreds of thousands of charities and fundraisers with a unique, personalised fundraising text code.
- Freebee Rewardz is launched – a loyalty rewards scheme for Pay as you go customers.
- Vodafone Guardian goes live – a free app that helps parents keep youngsters safe on their mobile.
- Vodafone UK wins Best Network in the Mobile News and Mobile awards
- Vodafone UK ranges the Apple iPhone
- Vodafone One Net - the business solution that merges mobile and landline numbers – reaches one million customers
- Vodafone VIP launched. The new reward scheme provides access for customers to a range of high-profile national events
- A major expansion programme brings the number of Vodafone retail stores to 400
- The Vodafone Foundation launches the UK World of Difference programme – giving 500 people the chance to get paid to work for charity
- Vodafone signs an exclusive agreement with Twitter, allowing customers to send updates and receive notifications by text
- Vodafone Sure Signal launched – a unique device to improve the mobile phone signal inside customers' homes
- Vodafone UK is the first European network operator to offer Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 ultra-mobile device with built-in broadband connectivity
- The first ever touchscreen BlackBerry® smartphone – The BlackBerry Storm 9500 – is announced. It's built exclusively for Vodafone.
- Vodafone launches Secure Remote Access, providing data security for remote and flexible workers
- We announce plans to build a state-of-the-art 850-seat customer services centre in Stoke on Trent
- The Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G broadband (HSDPA) data card is launched, offering faster data speeds on laptops
- The number of Vodafone live! customers with 3G reaches 10 million
- We launch Stop the Clock for Pay monthly and Pay as you go customers. This gives customers an hour’s talk in the evenings and weekends for the price of three minutes
- We launch Vodafone Simply – giving customers new, easy-to-use voice and text services
- Vodafone introduces Passport – a new voice roaming price plan
- Vodafone wins Mobile Retailer’s National Retailer of the Year award
- We launch Content Control – which bars younger customers from accessing adult material
- Vodafone launches its first 3G service in Europe with the Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS data card for corporate customers. It gives access to office applications at ten times the speed of GPRS
- Vodafone live! with 3G is launched in 13 markets – giving customers access to a range of services including video calling and video streaming
- Vodafone UK launches Speaking Phone for blind and visually impaired customers
- Vodafone live! attracts one million customers in its first six months
- Orange, Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone form a new association to drive inter-operable mobile payments
- Vodafone trials a global mobile payment system in the UK, Italy and Germany
- Vodafone launches the first European GPRS roaming service
- The Vodafone Group Foundation is launched
- Vodafone launches Vodafone live! and Mobile Office
- Arun Sarin succeeds Sir Christopher Gent as Chief Executive of Vodafone Group Plc
- The first 3G voice call is made over Vodafone’s initial 3G network of 30 radio base stations in the Thames Valley
- Vodafone introduces instant messaging to its network
- Vodafone becomes to the first network to offer Pay monthly customers the ability to roam
- GPRS is launched nationwide, providing an ‘always on’ connectivity
- Find and Seek with Vizzavi UK allows customers to find their way via WAP
- The acquisition of Mannesmann AG almost doubles the size of the Vodafone Group – making it the world’s largest mobile telecommunications company
- The Vodafone Mobile Connect USB modem is launched
- Vizzavi – a 50/50 joint venture between Vodafone AirTouch and VivendiNet – delivers a multi-access branded Internet portal for Europe
- Vodafone acquires the largest available 3G licence in the UK
- WAP gateway is opened, offering customers access to internet-style information
- Vodafone UK and Microsoft announce a joint project to bring Microsoft Outlook functionality to wireless mobile devices
- Vodafone AirTouch Plc is created as a result of a successful merger between Vodafone Group Plc and AirTouch Communications Inc
- On 5 January, Vodafone connects its five-millionth UK customer
- Chris Gent succeeds Sir Gerald Whent as Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Group Plc
- Vodafone is the first network operator in the UK to launch a Pay monthly analogue package
- Per-second billing on the digital network is introduced, as well as options to buy ‘bundled’ minutes and make off-peak local calls to landlines
- Vodata is the first network operator in the UK to launch data, fax and text messaging services over the digital network
- Vodafone joins the Globalstar consortium to develop and launch a Low Earth Orbiting Satellite mobile phone service
- Vodafone Group International is formed to acquire licences and supervise overseas interests
- Vodafone opens its first high street store
- Vodafone and Telecom Finland sign the world's first international GSM roaming agreement
- Racal and Vodafone de-merge, and the Vodafone Group is listed as an independent company on the London and New York stock exchanges
- Vodafone and Telecom Finland make the world’s first international roaming call
- Vodafone launches its digital (GSM) mobile phone service – the first in the UK
- Paknet is formed as a joint venture between Racal Telecom and Cable & Wireless
- Racal Telecomms Plc floats on the London and New York stock exchanges
- Vodafone is recognised as the largest mobile network in the world
- Vodata is created as the ‘voice and data' business to develop and market Vodafone Recall, the voicemail service
- Vodapage is launched – providing a paging network that covers 80% of the UK population
- The Vodafone analogue network is the first cellular network to launch in the UK – and the first call is made from St Katherine's Dock in London to Newbury on 1 January 1985
- The Vodafone name is announced to the media on 22 March. The press release states that the new service was "likely to find wide use among people constantly on the move such as business executives, sales representatives, journalists, doctors and veterinary surgeons".
- The Racal Electronics Group wins its bid for the private sector UK Cellular licence.