Mobiles and pricing plans in the late 90s / early 00s?

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At around 1997/8, mobiles entered the mainstream and were no longer only for emergency use. It became the essential item for students, clubbers and geeks alike. The indestructible Nokia 3210 and 3310 were the source of envy. The smaller the phone, the more fashionable it was.

The providers were Orange, BT Cellnet, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

I was a bit late on the bandwagon - my first being a Nokia 5110 ("Nokia 402" under Orange) which was a 1998 model but I didn't get it until September 2000. That thing still had an ariel! At the relatively old age I was (22) as well, most people would have been on their 2nd or 3rd phone by 2000. At least my Nokia 5110 was bought outright for £60 with a PAYG sim and it lasted me 4 years.

I know we sometimes get threads about old computer adverts - how much a computer was in 1999 and what the specs were. So I thought I'd ask the same here in the phones section. Maybe leaflets or historic web sites showing phone models and pricing plans? Or just from your memory - how much do you remember the monthly rate being for a Nokia 3210 or 3310? And of course, contracts only lasted for 1 year back then!
 
Associate
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I had my 1st mobile around 91,one of those bricks.
The monthly fee was something like £20 per month and then 50p per minute to call
 
Caporegime
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I remember having a BT Genie mobile. The credit was stored on the phone so you could text and if you timed it right and turned the phone off it would never get the signal to reduce your credit.

 
Soldato
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I remember paying 10p per SMS when I got my first one. Probably mid 00's. Had to keep things brief.
 
Associate
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I had the same first phone on Orange. I'm sure at the time I was limited to 10 free texts a day and you couldn't send any more than that even if you had plenty of credit!
I had a lime green front cover on mine

I got an 02 Genie sim card after that which gave you 300 free texts when you topped up £10!
 
Don
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I remember having a BT Genie mobile. The credit was stored on the phone so you could text and if you timed it right and turned the phone off it would never get the signal to reduce your credit.


My dad had that bad boy and still has the phone number that came with it!

Edit: in fact I'm sure he kept the phone too (although he's an iphone user nowadays)
 
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I remember having a BT Genie mobile. The credit was stored on the phone so you could text and if you timed it right and turned the phone off it would never get the signal to reduce your credit.

I'm sure you used to be able to buy dodgy versions of that phone that topped up your credit every time you turned them off and on
 
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Got my first mobile in 1998. Was a PAYG with One2One. Motorola Manhattan, if the main battery ran out you could use 4 x AA batteries.

If I remember right it was 50p per min and it couldn't do texting, someone tried to text me once and it scrolled like an old BT pager.

motorola-manhattan.jpg
 
Soldato
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The providers were Orange, BT Cellnet, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

They were actually Orange, BT Cellnet, One2One and Vodafone.

One2One became T-Mobile around 2003 when Deutsche Telekom bought them over before merging with Orange to become "Everything Everywhere" or EE for short.

BT Cellnet changed as BT were forced to split the mobile and landline under competition rules so the mobile company became mmO2 before naming changed to O2.
 
Soldato
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Back in 1999 when Orange launched the Everyday 50 tariff, which was 50p per day and gave you 50 mins of calls after 19:00 every day, if you knew how and had a compatible handset you could configure it as a Line 2, and it would cost only 25p per day, team it with the cheapest Orange 60 minute/30 minute tariff and you could be spending less than £20 a month, have two numbers and a great phone for free due to taking the higher end tariff as Line 1.

My first phone was a variant of the Motorola Flare on One2One with a 12 month upfront bundle costing £149 all-in, 1995/6. The included tariff was great, your got free unlimited calls to any landline in your area code or any that it was adjacent to, all weekend, and evening after 20:00. I wish I'd never gave it up when I did.
 
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My first phone, i think in 2000, was the bottom of the line Motorola (£50). Can't remember the price of calls/txts, though i do remember if you topped up more you got reduced costs.

Friend had a weird phone, you couldn't use a number from the phonebook when txting. You always had to manually put the number in when sending a txt.
 
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Soldato
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I purchased my first mobile, an Ericsson PF768 from The Link. It was with One2One and having agreed a timeplan, all was well. A couple of weeks or so after getting it, I was awaiting the train home from work and it was delayed. I got chatting to a girl on the platform whilst we waited and we continued to talk on the train. She was getting off before me and asked me for my number which I didn't hesitate in giving her.
A few days passed (if that) and my first bill was produced. It became apparent that I was not on the timeplan agreed in The Link and I contacted One2One who promised to deal with it. They did, but it involved me being given a different number. I never saw her again :(

Anyway, enough woe. I was a firm fan of Ericsson phones and I'm sure I had the PF768, T10, T18, T20, T39 and then the Sony Ericsson T600. I then had a brief spell with Samsung and the X600 followed by the D500 and then jumped over to Nokia with the N95, N95 Black and finally the E71.
After that, I got hold of a HTC Desire and my word, what a phone that was.

Looking back at these phones on GSM Arena reminds me of what an exciting time it was with mobile technology. It's quite dull now in comparison.
 
Man of Honour
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I didn't adopt a mobile phone until the Philips 535 around 2003 - didn't really have much desire for one until they could do multiple things like basic camera and MP3 player, etc. combined at the time with the need to be contactable due to family health concerns. I was on PAYG but you got a certain amount of free texts and voice each time you topped up - I can't remember exact details now.
 
Associate
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My first was a Sony CM-H333 'Mars Bar', probably around 1993 which I still have somewhere. It cost £150, was with BT Cellnet on a £12 a month contract with calls costing 50p per minute.

cgKjtDp.jpg
 
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Caporegime
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I remember my dad getting his first mobile in about 92 or 93. A little flip down Motorola called the M300 on Mercury One2One.

No word of a lie, he still has the same number. That could actually be a record.

My first was a little Sony Ericsson in about 1999. Can’t remember the model number. I do remember it getting stolen by a scaghead in the pub though.
 
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I had the same first phone on Orange. I'm sure at the time I was limited to 10 free texts a day and you couldn't send any more than that even if you had plenty of credit!
I had a lime green front cover on mine

Cool! I remember you could change the fascias on that phone. Mine was a deep blue colour. There was also a web site called "Bolt Blue" where you could change the splash logo on the screen, so instead of having the Orange logo, it displayed an anime character :) As for the 10 texts limit, what I remember of that phone is that the phone itself could only store 10 text messages! So if the phone already had 10 txts on it and another txt arrives, it would sit on a server somewhere until you deleted one of your quota. Then only after you did that you would receive your new txt. Also, if someone sent you a long text message (more than 160 characters IIRC), the Nokia 402 / 5110 would receive it as multiple-split messages, taking up more than 1 space in your 10-txt quota!

They were actually Orange, BT Cellnet, One2One and Vodafone.

My bad there! One2One does ring a bell now you said it, although I forgot that they eventually became T-Mobile.

Back in 1999 when Orange launched the Everyday 50 tariff, which was 50p per day and gave you 50 mins of calls after 19:00 every day, if you knew how and had a compatible handset you could configure it as a Line 2, and it would cost only 25p per day, team it with the cheapest Orange 60 minute/30 minute tariff and you could be spending less than £20 a month, have two numbers and a great phone for free due to taking the higher end tariff as Line 1.

I remember Everyday 50 as a mate of mine had it. Orange stopped it for new customers in 2001 IIRC, but existing customers were able to hang onto that contract for as long as they like. That's because if the customer didn't do anything after 1 year, the contract auto-renewed and was thus still bound to it. He stuck with it until around 2005, years after it ended for most people. I didn't know about the line 2 "hack" though :)
 
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My first mobile was the Sagem MC 820 on Vodafone back in 1998 I think it was around £30 per month but not sure.

I know i felt like the muts nuts when i got it being the first out of my pals to have a mobile phone, I was only 22 at the time & the only numbers i was ringing at first were home phones, took a while before all my pals caught up and we could all send each other text messages which we all thought was awesome.
 
Soldato
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I remember having a BT Genie mobile. The credit was stored on the phone so you could text and if you timed it right and turned the phone off it would never get the signal to reduce your credit.

That was down to the architecture of the 1st Gen mobile networks relying on old fixed line billing systems. If you powered off the calling mobile within 25 or so seconds of the call being established, the system classed the call as having failed to establish and you didn’t get charged.

They fixed this in 2G/GSM standards by making the mobile send “user initiated detach” as the last thing the mobile did before it powered down.
 
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