Mobile network operators

Of the course of the past two decades, mobile networks (cellular networks) have become arguably the most vital communications channels worldwide.

Initially launched in the 1980s as a method through which only the richest members of society in the most advanced areas of the world could contact one another using enormous handsets, technology has moved forward to such an extent that even some of the poorest people in developing nations can have access to a mobile phone.

Worldwide, the largest mobile telecoms provider are China Mobile – owned by the People’s Republic of China government, the latest estimates suggested that the company have around 775 million subscribers worldwide – over 300 million more than nearest competitor Vodafone.


In the UK market, EE (formed as a result of a merger between Orange and T-Mobile) are currently the dominant force, competing largely with O2, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and Three. Following several years of upheaval after the turn of the millennium, the British telecommunications industry is now relatively stable – TalkTalk are the latest brand to make a serious attempt at becoming a major player, but have thus far struggled to make any great advances.

Following the smartphone boom of the past decade, the latest development in the mobile network industry in is the move towards super-fast 4G data networks – however, consumer uptake for this has been slow, largely thanks to the prohibitive cost structures currently in place, teamed with general satisfaction with current 3G data speeds.

John introduces us to the current state of the UK mobile telecommunications industry, with an overview of its leading brands and their typical offerings.