Rabbit was the baby of Hutchison Whampoa (who later went on to create Orange), and was a CT2 digital cordless phone system which replaced the insecure and out of date CT1 system. 4 companies were given licences to run a national CT2 network :- Hutchison Whampoa (Rabbit), Phonepoint, Mercury Callpoint and Zonephone. The idea was a digital cordless phone that you could use at home, in the office or on the move.
How did it work?
Basically, you could only make calls when “out and about” and then you had to be next to or within 100m of a Rabbit point. I seem to recall customers carrying pagers so that they could be paged with details of someone who wanted to contact them. All you had to do then, was to find a point in which to make the call!
The points were situtated in “popular places” such as banks, railway stations, shopping centres or where there would be a large amount of people and a need for points. In fact I can remember taking over my very first branch, when working in mobile comms, and having a Rabbit point in the shop (not that many people were ever seen using their phones though!)
Where is it now?
Sadly, Rabbit came to its demise circa 1993/1994. Although it worked extremely well in Hong Kong, it didn’t quite take off over here and rather than throw good money at bad Hutchison decided to withdraw it.
Although the system was withdrawn, there are still many people using Rabbit phones as ordinary domestic cordless phones, with the base station and one or more handsets used around the house.
Again I can remember the days when my then boss decided to buy a load of Rabbits, and sell then for £199.99 inc VAT. They sold like hot cakes!
Memories of Rabbit
Taking over my first store wondering “what the hell is this Rabbit thing anyway!?
Customers coming in and asking for replacement batteries (we never sold them but had lots of customers!)
Coming in one day and finding the point had gone :’-(
Selling the handsets for £199.99
Saying at the launch of Orange “Bet it’ll be as popular as Rabbit!”
Being told of a Rabbit point still in place – and sure enough it still is!
Hi I have a soft cuddly toy rabbit that I got when I went to The NEC to a Comms exhibition. Rabbit had a stand and if you put your business card into a slot somewhere in the stand you got presented with this cuddly rabbit in return. It has a scarf with the rabbit name & logo. Must be worth a bob or two!! For about 6 months after that I was in-undated with sales women trying to sell me a Rabbit phone….getting my phone number off my business card.Regards
Jerry Lefever Consultant/contractor
Rabbit Pics from Andy Scott
Andy writes”…. I recently bought a Rabbit system comprising 3 handsets, and a base station. I took a little picture with my webcam for my website, and thought I’d send you a copy as well. Two pictures are attached:
A picture of the Rabbit Handset and Base Station and the front side of the wee reference card that tells you the main features of the Rabbit handset. Thanks for a great website!…”
06 August 2002 13:01
Even the BBC are using Cellsites for their Research now!!!
I’m a journalist working at BBC News Online and thought you might be interested in a story we’ve done asking if the wifi hotspot industry has anything to learn from the demise of Rabbit and its peers. It even includes some shots of a Rabbit sign at New Barnet station. This link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2175804.stm should take you to it.
I gave your Rabbit pages a mention in the story so thought it only fair to point you at the article.
BBC News Online
Sure enough, we’re there on the article under Internet Links and Rabbit history.