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Vodafone turns to eBay for handset supplies

Largest phone network reduced to searching largest flea market

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Vodafone UK is hunting eBay for obsolete handsets that support its Textphone service for the deaf.

British telephone companies are required to provide services for deaf customers, who generally use a keyboard to type text messages. Text- and instant messaging have mitigated the need to an extent, but seeing every key typed is a better communication experience, according to the RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf people).

Vodafone's service uses software provided by the RNID running on Nokia's Communicator 9210. The problem is that Nokia doesn't make the 9210 any more. And while rival networks use two-device solutions, Vodafone is forced to source Communicators from anywhere they can, including eBay, until it comes up with something better.

A Vodafone spokeswoman told us: "We buy Communicators secondhand from a variety of sources, including eBay, and clean them up for our customers."

So what identity does Vodafone using when bidding? We invite our readers to spot the Vodafone agent: not easy amongst the hordes trying to get that year-2000 technology. ®

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