Networking

Cheat sheet: Difference between mm02 and 02

Know thy mobile network operator...

Why should I care about the difference between mm02 and 02?
You don't need to care, really, but you may sound a bit stupid if you don't know that mm02 is the publicly traded holding company for the mm02 group of network operators. 02 is the name of the UK and European networks and retail outlets, which is why there are mobile phone shops with 02 scrawled all over their front popping up in lots of high streets and those ads with the bubbles.

What are the other companies mm02 owns?
mm02 undertook a massive re-branding exercise throughout Europe on 31 April this year, changing the varied names of its mobile phone subsidiaries to 02. Its mobile phone business had lots of different names across Europe. mm02's UK business was previously known as BT Cellnet. In Germany its mobile phone company was Viag Interkom, in Ireland Digifone and in Holland Telfort.

Wasn't mm02 part of BT at one point?
Yes it was. Under the name BT Wireless, mm02 was the BT mobile arm that was then spun off as a separate company late last year. mm02 started trading on the stock exchange on 19 November, raising a considerable sum for its former parent - which had buckets of debt from buying various 3G licences.

So mmO2's a debt-free telco?
Yes, though you may think there is no such thing these days, it's a debt-free telco. However, mm02 will have to spend a fortune to get its 3G network up and running, which will put it back into the red. It's also a small company compared to others like Orange and Vodafone, so it could get snapped up by another telco looking to expand in the UK.

And it's a 3G pioneer?
Yes. Though Japan's NTT DoCoMo has an expanding 3G network with thousands of users, mmO2 can claim to have got there first with its 3G roll out on the Isle of Man, where it has its fifth network. But it doesn't have many users - if you're one of the several dozen, be sure to drop us a line - editorial@silicon.com .

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