Mobile phone operator Vodafone today announced a deal to sell its own-brand phones on the consumer market for the first time.
The firm has teamed up with Huawei Technologies, a Chinese manufacturer, to supply Vodafone branded 3G handsets across 21 countries for at least five years from this September.
The agreement also marks Huawei’s first significant entry into the European handset market. Last summer it was interested in taking over the telecoms equipment group Marconi for around €874m before Swedish firm Ericsson acquired most of the company’s assets.
Ping Guo, Huawei's senior vice president, said the deal would enable it to become one of the world's leading players in handset development.
Vodafone currently operates on 3G phones made by industry players such as Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
Today it said the agreement with Huawei would enable it to offer phones to customers at more competitive prices.
Vodafone serves 179 million customers in more than 50 countries.