Orange joins Euro alliance and plans 3G services

Orange joins Euro alliance and plans 3G services

Mobile operator Orange will join an alliance with Telecom Italia Mobile, Telefónica Móviles of Spain and T-Mobile International of Germany, in a move that should allow it to offer customers a uniform set of voice, data and mobile Internet services across several European markets, Orange chief executive officer (CEO), Solomon Trujillo, said.

In addition, Orange plans to launch 3G (third generation) wireless services in the UK next year, and in France in two to three years, according to its chief operating officer (COO), Sanjiv Ahuja.

Orange has acquired 4500 3G sites across the two countries and wants to roll out service as soon as possible, he said.

The network technology required for 3G, that promises much faster data transfer rates, is not yet ready for wide-scale deployment, Ahuja said, and the right handsets and services to support the services were not yet available. But by the end of 2004 Orange planned to offer 3G services to 40 per cent of the UK population.

The moves are part of a plan to help Orange boost its revenue and profits. The plan also involves a tighter focus on key customer groups, and boosting the amount spent by each customer by offering services they want, said Trujillo, who was installed recently as Orange’s CEO.

“We are on track for 5 per cent revenue growth this year and we intend to grow more rapidly in 2004 and 2005, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization [EBITDA] of between 15 and 17 per cent,” Trujillo said.

The company is also merging its IT systems across its business units, from billing to customer relationship management (CRM), data warehousing and analysis, in a bid to increase efficiencies and create a more consistent customer experience.

“This is the hardest challenge that faces us. Two months ago when I joined there were a dozen platforms. We’ve looked at the best, combined them, and we’re now on the path to having the best integrated system possible,” he said.

The new IT infrastructure built on top of Orange’s existing IT systems rather than replacing them, Ahuja said. “Orange has invested billions of dollars in this and isn’t going to abandon it,” he said.

Orange will also focus on moving “intelligence” from handsets to the network, as it had begun to do with its Orange Backup and Update services, Ahuja said.

Essentially, customer data and services were stored on the network, rather than on phones.

“The wire-free vision is that you can get your services anywhere, on whatever device you want,” he said. “We’re building a network that will morph to suit customer needs.”

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