Republic of Ireland
| Acquired by Vodafone|
| 1984; 33 years ago (1984) in Dublin, Ireland|
Eircell was an Irish mobile cellular network provider which was established in 1984, with operations commencing in 1986. It was defined by the access code 088 (analogue TACS system). It became defunct in 2001 when the company was acquired by Vodafone. Eircell underwent a major branding exercise prior to its acquisition by the Vodafone group in late 2000. The main branding was to associate a shade of deep purple with the company. When Vodafone rebranded with its trademark shade of red, the company commented that "red is the new purple". The company was known as Eircell-Vodafone for some time as the process took nine months in total.
In the late 1980s, early adopters of the service numbered in their hundreds rather than thousands and paid handsomely for the phones that were available at the time through a network of independent retailers. The price for mobile phones ranged from IR£1500 to IR£2000 and 'subscribers' were typically politicians or wealthy businessmen. The market-leading phone manufacturers in the early years of the Irish market were Nokia and Motorola.
In response to negative publicity about security compromises on the TACS system during the early 1990s, Eircell introduced Ireland's first encrypted cellular phone called a Kokusai and it retailed in the region of IR£1400. Sales were poor partly because Eircell was not in the business of selling phones and because switching from encrypted to unencrypted was 'messy'. As phone prices dropped and the network rolled out to more of Ireland, sales took off reaching a milestone 100,000 subscribers by 1995 and in 1997, Eircell launched Ireland's first prepaid mobile phone service which was called 'Ready To Go'. A year later, it launched its GSM 900 networks (access code 087) which quickly took hold as users rapidly switched over to the new digital technology.