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Vodafone To Shut Down Pager Service Over Competition Concerns

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Vodafone says it makes more economic sense to shut down the pager unit rather than address competition concerns so it can sell it to Capita

Vodafone could close its paging service after the UK Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) suggested it would launch an investigation into the proposed sale of the business to Capita.

The two companies are the UK’s last nationwide paging providers and deal was struck in February.

However the CMA has said it fears the merger would lead to higher prices and reduced coverage to a lack of competition.

Pager

Vodafone pager

Although the number of users has dropped dramatically since the technology’s 1980s heyday, there are many in the emergency services and healthcare industry that value the reliability, coverage and battery life of pagers – something not afforded by mobile phones.

The CMA had given Vodafone and Capita until 17 May to propose remedies to the concerns, or face a full investigation. However the former has suggested the deal may be off because it made more economic sense to shut down the unit, which only has a thousand or so customers.

“This seems to be a surprising decision considering that this market has been contracting for some time and no other country in Europe has more than one wide area paging network,” a Vodafone spokesperson told the BBC.

“Due to the expense involved with a prolonged investigation, Vodafone will not pursue the transaction and has made the decision to close down this business, which is based on ageing, standalone technology no longer supported by network vendors.”

Silicon has asked Vodafone for further comment.

The first paging-like system was developed by the Detroit Police Department back in 1921, while Motorola coined the term in 1959 and popularised the item. Early devices could only receive messages but later models (two way pagers) could also reply to communications.

You can read more about the pager in our retrospective here

Quiz: What do you know about the history of messaging?