Timeline: BT Cellnet, Orange and One2One's path to BT EE

With this week's news that BT is to buy mobile operator EE from owners Orange and Deutsche Telekom for £12.5bn, and that Telefonica chairman César Alierta flew to the UK to persuade BT to also snap up O2, Marketing takes a look back at the corporate and marketing shenanigans that have characterised the UK's mobile market.

BT: confirms that it is to buy EE for £12.5bn and in talks to potentially acquire O2 from Telefonica
BT: confirms that it is to buy EE for £12.5bn and in talks to potentially acquire O2 from Telefonica

Trawling back through the annals of mobile history in the UK throws up a veritable soap opera’s-worth of incest, wife-swapping, scheming, rivalry and reconciliation.

Here Marketing charts some of the landmarks of the evolution of the mobile sector, and in particular the brands, and their forebears, currently embroiled in this week's news about BT's EE deal and O2 talks.

The same year, BT spun off its BT Wireless division from the main group and holding group mmO2 was formed, and with it the O2 brand. mmO2 subsequently adopted the pithier moniker O2.

O2\'s advertising has featured the heavy (or rather light) use of air bubbles rising in water, with visually striking work that has used the instantly recognisable tones of actor Sean Bean as a voiceover. In 2012, O2 published on YouTube a look back at a decade\'s worth of its ads.

', }, { type: 'blog_post', date: '2008', title: 'Orange', height: 300, content: 'The famous tagline The future’s bright, the future\’s Orange is no more and is replaced by the clunkier and never-to-be-as-iconic I am…', }, { type: 'blog_post', date: '2009', title: 'EE', height: 300, content: 'In September, Orange owner France Telecom and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom announced that they were in advanced talks to merge their UK mobile operation, creating the UK’s largest mobile operator with a 37% share.', }, { type: 'blog_post', date: '2010', title: 'EE', height: 300, content: 'The French and German marriage was consummated and Everything Everywhere was born, with its joint owners insisting that the name would not be consumer-facing.', images: ['//offlineHBPL.hbpl.co.uk/news/OMC/richedit/eelogo2.jpg'], }, { type: 'blog_post', date: '2011', title: 'EE', height: 300, content: 'Everything Everywhere is shortened to EE, not long after chief executive Olaf Swantee described the original name as silly. Although it housed both the Orange and T-Mobile brands, the latter has gradually been phased out of existence, stirring up controversy over unfair competition and resulting in an EU investigation.', }, { type: 'blog_post', date: '1999', title: 'BT Cellnet', content: 'BT buys out Securicor’s 40% stake and Cellnet became BT Cellnet. In June the following year, the company launched the world’s first General Packet Radio Service - better known as GPRS - which saw mobile use charged according to volume of data exchanged, rather than by-the-minute for calls. It is now industry standard.

One2One, latterly becoming a joint venture between Cable & Wireless and US group Mediaone, was bought by German group Deutsche Telekom

', images: ['//offlineHBPL.hbpl.co.uk/news/OMC/richedit/BTCellnetLogo11.jpg'], } ]; var timeline = new Timeline($('#timeline'), timeline_data); timeline.setOptions({ animation: true, lightbox: true, showMonth: true, separator: 'off', columnMode: 'dual', order: 'asc', dateFormat: 'YYYY' }); timeline.display(); }); // ]]>

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