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July 29, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:03pm

VODAPHONE LOOKS TO EXPAND INTO UK LAND-LINE MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

UK mobile phone operator Vodafone Group Plc is looking to break into the land-line business telephone market saying it is in negotiation with a number of UK carriers. The company says its will initially re-badge land-line services from its partners, which will enable its corporate mobile phone customers to buydata and fixed voice services through Vodaphone. According to the company, this will mean cheaper services and a single bill for corporate customers that use the company for all their telecoms services. Vodaphone says its first deal is with Energis Communications Ltd, the fledgling phone operator arm of the National Grid Group Plc, which has a nationwide high speed optic fiber SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) network, laid alongside the National Grid’s electricity cables. Energis has120,000 business lines which it will supply to Vodafone, in a deal which, according to Vodafone Chief Executive Chris Gent, is one month away. Vodafone is to re-sell Energis telecoms services including its Frame Relay data services, under its own name. In return Energis is to re-sellVodafone’s mobile phone services. Vodafone says it is also in the preliminary stages of negotiation for similar agreements with Cable & Wireless Communications Plc and British Telecommunications Plc, both of whom own stakes in mobile phone operators. Currently, due to the UK’s telecoms watchdog Oftel, the large carriers are forced to treat their mobile companies as separate entities. The ruling prevents the most obvious tie up between BT and the Cellnet network which is 60% owned by BT. Oftel is adamant that BT and Cellnet must remain as separate entities, and BT cannot subsidize Cellnet but says that it regards the Vodaphone situation as a natural progression in the telecoms market, as the whole market is in a state of consolidation. The planned deal extends an agreement between Vodafone and Energis penned adeal in April last year, which enabled telco operators a new access point to the Vodafone network with a telecoms switch run by Energis and Vodafone.The Vodafone Group has a 40% market share of the UK mobile phone market, and had 1996 revenues of 1.64bn pounds.

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