Under its new name, Vodafone Group Plc., the company begun to claim its place as one of the world's largest mobile telecommunications company with ownership interests in 26 countries across five continents and partnership networks in 33 other countries. Vodafone does not manufacture cellular phones and network equipment so it has become the largest purchaser of these products. In 2004-05, the company bought $23-billion worth of these products from third parties, including $12 billion on handsets, network equipment and IT services from all over the world
The company today boasts of the Vodafone Speaking Phone which was devised to address a major EU concern about giving communication access to disabled persons. The Speaking Phone converts its screen content into speech to allow the blind to "read" text messages. This is just one of Vodafone's products and services that "democratize" access to communication technology.
Right now, Vodafone is developing another project called M-PESA, which seeks to enhance the access of mobile telephony to banking. This would allow customers to borrow, transfer and pay cash through the use of SMS text messaging. Another project in the pipeline intends to include voice and data communication in its services.
As for Telefonica, the company has operated in Spain for 80 years but only under the auspices of EU did it break out of its mold to expand to all Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets which spread to17 countries in the European, African and Latin American continents. From just fixed telephony, it begun to offer broadband, mobile-cellular telephony and Internet services. By 2005, Telefonica was the world's sixth largest company in terms of market capitalization and seventh in the EuroStoxx50 ranking. It now serves 153.5 million customers worldwide, involving 16 million fixed lines, nearly 5 million data-Internet access and over 20 million mobile telephones. With over 1,5 million direct shareholders, Telefonica trades on the major national and international stock exchanges.
The aggressiveness and enterprise shown by Telefonica and Vodafone are exactly the kind of business cultures the EU seeks to foster through the EU Enterprise Policy. Under this policy, EU promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness in manufacturing and services and ensures that all business within the region compete and trade on fair and equal terms. The overall goal is to make Europe an attractive place to invest and work in. EU is all about integration and in this regard, the enterprise policy works to coordinate policies on trade, research, the internal market, employment and training, the information society, regional development and taxation, without overlooking the importance of environmental protection.
Under the enterprise policy, EU also preoccupies itself with removing obstacles to competition across the board, preventing new ones from going up and limiting, improving and simplifying the process of regulation. Most of the barriers to intra-EU trade have in fact been dismantled with the imposition of product standards on public health, the consumer and the environment.
The EU Enterprise P