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Vodafone is a British multinational telecommunications company providing mobile and broadband services.

Vodafone Group Plc (/ˈvoʊdəfoʊn/) is a British multinational telecommunications company. Its registered office and global headquarters are in Newbury, Berkshire, England. It predominantly operates services in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.

As of November 2020, Vodafone owns and operates networks in 22 countries, with partner networks in 48 further countries. Its Vodafone Global Enterprise division provides telecommunications and IT services to corporate clients in 150 countries.

Vodafone has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company has a secondary listing on Nasdaq.


The name Vodafone comes from VOice DAta FONE (the latter a sensational spelling of "phone"), chosen by the company to "reflect the provision of voice and data services over mobile phones".


The evolution of Vodafone started in 1981 with the establishment of the Racal Strategic Radio Ltd subsidiary of Racal Electronics, the UK's largest maker of military radio technology, which formed a joint venture with Millicom called 'Racal', which evolved into the present Vodafone.

  • Evolution as a Racal Telecom brand: 1980 to 1991

In 1980, Ernest Harrison, the then chairman of Racal Electronics, agreed to a deal with Lord Weinstock of the General Electric Company to allow Racal to access some of GEC's tactical battlefield radio technology. The head of Racal's military radio division, Gerry Whent, was briefed by Ernest Harrison to drive the company into commercial mobile radio. Whent visited a mobile radio factory run by General Electric (unrelated to GEC) in Virginia, USA, the same year to understand the commercial use of military radio technology.

Jan Stenbeck, head of a growing Swedish conglomerate, set up an American company, Millicom Inc, and approached Gerry Whent in July 1982 about bidding jointly for the UK's second cellular radio licence. The two struck a deal giving Racal 60% of the new company, Racal-Millicom Ltd, and Millicom 40%. Due to concerns of the British government about foreign ownership, the terms were revised, and in December 1982, the Racal-Millicom partnership was awarded the second UK mobile phone network licence. Final ownership of Racal-Millicom Ltd was 80% Racal, with Millicom holding 15% plus royalties, and the venture firm Hambros Technology Trust holding 5%. According to the UK Secretary of State for Industry, "the bid submitted by Racal-Millicom Ltd … provided the best prospect for early national coverage by cellular radio."

Vodafone was launched on 1 January 1985 under the new name, Racal-Vodafone (Holdings) Ltd, with its first office based in the Courtyard in Newbury, Berkshire, and shortly thereafter Racal Strategic Radio was renamed Racal Telecommunications Group Limited. On 29 December 1986, Racal Electronics issued shares to the minority shareholders of Vodafone worth GB£110 million, and Vodafone became a fully owned brand of Racal.

On 26 October 1988, Racal Telecom, majority held by Racal Electronics, went public on the London Stock Exchange with 20% of its stock floated. The successful flotation led to a situation where Racal's stake in Racal Telecom was valued more than the whole of Racal Electronics. Under stock market pressure to realise full value for shareholders, Racal demerged Racal Telecom in 1991.

Vodafone Group, then Vodafone Airtouch: 1991 to 2000

On 16 September 1991, Racal Telecom was demerged from Racal Electronics as Vodafone Group, with Gerry Whent as its CEO.

In July 1996, Vodafone acquired the two-thirds of Talkland it did not already own for £30.6 million. On 19 November 1996, in a defensive move, Vodafone purchased for £77 million Peoples Phone, a 181-store chain whose customers were overwhelmingly using Vodafone's network. In a similar move the company acquired the 80% that it did not already own of Astec Communications, a service provider with 21 stores.

In January 1997, Whent retired and Chris Gent took over as CEO. In the same year, Vodafone introduced its Speechmark logo, composed of a quotation mark in a circle, with the Os in the Vodafone logotype representing opening and closing quotation marks and suggesting conversation.

On 29 June 1999, Vodafone completed its purchase of American service provider AirTouch Communications, Inc. and changed its name to Vodafone Airtouch plc. The merged company commenced trading on 30 June 1999. The acquisition gave Vodafone a 35% share of Mannesmann, owner of the largest German mobile network. To gain antitrust approval for the merger, Vodafone sold its 17.2% stake in Mannesmann's German competitor, E-Plus Mobilfunk.

On 21 September 1999, Vodafone agreed to merge its US wireless assets with those of Bell Atlantic Corp to form Verizon Wireless. The merger was completed on 4 April 2000, just a few months prior to Bell Atlantic's merger with GTE to form Verizon Communications, Inc.

In November 1999, Vodafone made an unsolicited bid for Mannesmann, which was rejected. Vodafone's interest in Mannesmann had been increased by the latter's purchase of Orange, the UK mobile operator. Gent would later say Mannesmann's move into the UK broke a "gentleman's agreement" not to compete in each other's home territory. The hostile takeover provoked strong protest in Germany, and a "titanic struggle" which saw Mannesmann resist Vodafone's efforts. However, on 3 February 2000, the Mannesmann board agreed to an increased offer of £112 billion, then the largest corporate merger ever. The EU approved the merger in April 2000 after Vodafone agreed to divest the 'Orange' brand, which was acquired in May 2000 by France Télécom.

Vodafone Group plc: 2000 to present

On 28 July 2000, the Company reverted to its former name, Vodafone Group plc.

On 17 December 2001, Vodafone introduced the concept of "Partner Networks", by signing TDC Mobil of Denmark. The new concept involved the introduction of Vodafone international services to the local market, without the need of investment by Vodafone. The concept would be used to extend the Vodafone brand and services into markets where it did not have stakes in local operators. Vodafone services would be marketed under the dual-brand scheme, where the Vodafone brand is added at the end of the local brand. (i.e., TDC Mobil-Vodafone etc.)

In 2007, Vodafone entered into a title sponsorship deal with the McLaren Formula One team, which traded as "Vodafone McLaren Mercedes" until the sponsorship ended at the end of the 2013 season.

On 1 December 2011, it acquired the Reading-based Bluefish Communications Ltd, an ICT consultancy company.[36] The acquired operations formed the nucleus of a new Unified Communications and Collaboration practice within its subsidiary Vodafone Global Enterprise, which was to focus on implementing strategies in cloud computing, and strengthen its professional services offering.

In April 2012, Vodafone announced an agreement to acquire Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) for £1.04 billion. The acquisition gave Vodafone access to CWW's fibre network for businesses, enabling it to offer unified communications to enterprises. On 18 June 2012, Cable & Wireless' shareholders voted in favour of the Vodafone offer.

On 2 September 2013, Vodafone announced it would be selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $US130 billion. With the proceeds from the deal, it announced a £19 billion Project Spring initiative to improve network quality in Europe and emerging markets, such as India.

In June 2017, the company took measures to prevent its advertising from appearing within outlets focused on creating and sharing hate speech and fake news.

In January 2020, Vodafone confirmed that it has pulled out of Diem Association (known as Libra Association at the time), the governing council for the Facebook-created global digital currency initiative.

Products and services

In October 2009, it launched Vodafone 360, a new internet service for the mobile, PC and Mac. This was discontinued in December 2011 after disappointing hardware sales. This was after the Director of Internet Services resigned in September 2010 tweeting "5 days before I leave Vodafone. Freedom beckons." In February 2010, Vodafone launched the world's cheapest mobile phone known as Vodafone 150, intended to sell for below $15 (£10) in the developing world. It was initially launched in India, Turkey and eight African countries including Lesotho, Kenya and Ghana.

  • Mobile money transfer services

In March 2007, Safaricom, which is part owned by Vodafone and the leading mobile communication provider in Kenya, launched mobile payment software developed by Vodafone.

By February 2008, the M-PESA money transfer system in Kenya had gained 1.6 million customers. By 2011 there were fourteen million M-Pesa accounts by which held 40 percent of the country's savings. Following M-PESA's success in Kenya, Vodafone announced that it was to extend the service to Afghanistan. The service here was launched on the Roshan network under the brand M-Paisa with a different focus to the Kenyan service. M-Paisa was targeted as a vehicle for microfinance institutions' (MFI) loan disbursements and repayments, alongside business-to-business applications such as salary disbursement. The Afghanistan launch was followed in April 2008 by the announcement of further a further launch of M-PESA in Tanzania, South Africa and India.

In February 2012, Vodafone announced a worldwide partnership with Visa.

  • Health services

In November 2009, Vodafone announced the creation of a new business unit focused on the emerging market (the application of mobile communications and network technologies to healthcare) One of its early success stories is with the Novartis-led "SMS for Life" project in Tanzania, for which Vodafone developed and deployed a text-message based system that enables all of the country's 4,600 public health facilities to report their levels of anti-malarial medications so that stock level data can be viewed centrally in real-time, enabling timely re-supply of stock. During the SMS for Life pilot, which covered 129 health facilities over six months, stock-outs dropped from 26% to 0.8%, saving thousands of lives.

  • Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation is a recognised charity which supports and initiates projects which use mobile technology to benefit the vulnerable, using the slogan "Connecting for Good". They often work in collaboration with other charitable groups. Below are some examples of their initiatives:

DreamLab, a volunteer computing mobile app developed in cooperation with Imperial College London and used to research on cancer, COVID-19, and other diseases

TECSOS – mobile phones have been adapted to allow victims of domestic violence to activate immediate contact with the emergency services if they are in danger

Paediatric Epilepsy Remote Monitoring System – a monitoring system that allows physicians to remotely make patient observations

Safe Taxi System – an initiative in Portugal that consists of technology that taxi drivers can use to alert police if they are in danger of being assaulted

Learning with Vodafone Solution – technology that allows teachers in India to use graphical and multi-media content to enhance their teaching

The World of Difference programme – successful applicants choose charities for which they work either full-time for two months or part-time for four months (minimum 15 hours a week). The charities are provided with £2,500, with each winner receiving the balance as a salary after NI and tax have been paid.


Since 2017, Vodafone's global advertising has used the slogan 'The future is exciting. Ready?'. The previous slogan, since 2009, was 'Power to You'.


May 3, 2021
Vodafone and Google Cloud announce a new, six-year strategic partnership to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics, insights, and learnings to support the introduction of new digital products and services for Vodafone customers.

Leveraging Google Cloud's data and analytics technologies like BigQuery and Dataproc, the platform, called Neuron, enables Nucleus.

March 3, 2020
Vodafone invests $25 million in Texas-based AST & Science's space-based network, becoming the lead investor alongside Japan's Rakuten Inc.
November 2019
Vodafone and Google Cloud announces a new, six-year strategic partnership to build powerful new integrated data platform and distributed system for Vodafone.
Vodafone connects 5G smartphones to its 5G network.
September 16, 1991
Vodafone was founded by Ernest Harrison, Gerry Whent and Maria Cristina Ferradini.



Further Resources


Misan Harriman explores the impacts of connectivity for education


December 7, 2021


October 11, 2021
The Economic Times
Vodafone will have 45 days from the date of notification of these rules to approach the government for settlement. "Rules would be notified soon," the official said, adding that the broad template of the rules would be akin to the final set of norms issued for settlement mandating indemnity from the companies willing to settle.
September 17, 2021
Sunil Mittal said Bharti Airtel would opt for the payment moratorium and redirect the cash flow to aggressively build networks
Natasha Lomas
September 2, 2021
Europe's top court has dealt another blow to 'zero rating' -- ruling for a second time that the controversial carrier practice goes against the European Union's rules on open Internet access. 'Zero rating' refers to commercial offers that can be made by mobile network operators to entice customers by excluding the data consumption of certain [...]
Natasha Lomas
September 2, 2021
Europe's top court has dealt another blow to 'zero rating' -- ruling for a second time that the controversial carrier practice goes against the European Union's rules on open Internet access. 'Zero rating' refers to commercial offers that can be made by mobile network operators to entice customers by excluding the data consumption of certain [...]
August 29, 2021
The Economic Times
This would be in addition to their own undertaking to withdraw any pending litigation or proceeding before any forum and assurance that they wont pursue any further claim in the future.


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