Rabbit telecoms – Before their time?

Twenty years ago, 1989,  saw the arrival of location specific mobile phone licences being awarded in Britain.

Four companies were given licences to run a national European Standard CT-2 network :- Hutchison Whampoa (Rabbit), Phonepoint, Mercury Callpoint and Zonephone.

Rabbit phone point sign in Carlisle

Rabbit phone point sign in Carlisle

Memorials to the ‘Rabbit’ service can be seen littering the facades of buildings up and down the UK with their striking blue rabbit ears logo.

Looking back, it could be said that these services, where a mobile phone call could be made within 100m of a base station, was the forerunner to the WiFi services we now take for granted.

It is now a common site to look through a restaurant window and see a laptop computer open and a business person enjoying a  cup of coffee or eating a meal whilst checking emails or even making phonecalls using internet telephony services such as Skype

In 1993, Hutchison Whampoa Limited, HWL reorganised its UK telecom business by closing the Rabbit telepoint service.  It is reported that they had spent over £200m on the project.

HWL went on to become one of the major mobile phone services in the UK, known as Orange.

Online articles from 2002/3  looked into the crystal ball of technology and tried to predict how the mobile communication market would evolve and they don’t seem far from accurate.

The CT-2 service was all over by 1994 however, it set in place a way of using fixed public hotspots to offer some services when you are away from your  private home or office connection.  A method of working very much used today with our 24 hour lifestyles and cloud living.

Further information

BBC – History lessons for wireless networks

The Independent – The mobile phone finally comes of age

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