Vodafone not expecting to repeat O2 iPhone problems

Mobile operator Vodafone claims it is confident of avoiding the iPhone network and supply issues tha


Speaking to CBR at an event marking Vodafone's arrival as an iPhone seller in London this morning, enterprise director Peter Kelly said that the firm had liaised with both Apple and other partners prior to the launch to ensure the supply chain was prepared.

"We had 50,000 pre-orders ready and shipped them on the first day of sales and all were activated within 24 hours," he said. "The launch was a long time coming so a lot of planning went into it - we spoke to Apple about where we expected demand to be greatest. There have been no issues so far but we'll monitor the sales forecast closely."

The impressive first day sales - by way of contrast Google's Nexus One phone shipped 20,000 during its first week on sale - were boosted by customers who had delayed upgrading until the iPhone was available. While Kelly said that Vodafone "won't sell that many every day", the firm is confident of hitting sales targets for the iPhone.

O2, who was previously the only UK iPhone provider, has regularly seen its network fail due to the huge amount of data used by bandwidth-hogging iPhone users. However, Kelly is confident that Vodafone has the infrastructure in place to cope with the additional traffic.

"If people are going to deploy smart devices, and specifically the iPhone, it's really important that you have a network you can trust, a network that is reliable. We continue to rollout and strengthen our network - more than one thousand new sites were rolled out in the UK last year, and we continue to invest tens and hundreds of millions of pounds in our network this year," he said.

To help customers further improve their mobile signal, Vodafone has also announced it is rebranding its femtocell offering. Now called Sure Signal, it is said to deliver much better indoor 3G coverage and signal. It has also revamped the pricing model in an attempt to attract more small business and consumer customers.

Kelly also rejected the idea that the iPhone is not yet ready for wide-spread business use, primarily due to concerns over battery life and the fact that iPhones can only run one application at a time.

"I think you need to look at the user profile of what an enterprise user does compared to a consumer," he told CBR. "Consumers are very bandwidth-hungry, they do lots of downloading of YouTube content for example. While enterprise customers use more mission-critical information, a lot of it isn't necessarily massive in bandwidth requirements. Consumers can be using two or three times the monthly bandwidth of an enterprise user. We're confident that our network is capable of handling the data."

Kelly said that Vodafone has also been working on its support for businesses looking to make the switch to the iPhone. "We've been deploying smartphones in enterprises for years. We have over 1,000 business advisers who have been trained on the iPhone and for larger deployments we offer professional support services," he told CBR.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.