Mobile & Wireless

Orange unveils new messaging, VoIP apps, Facebook deal

Wednesday 21 November 2012 | 13:58 CET | News

Orange has announced a range of new services aimed at combating the erosion in traditional voice and SMS revenues faced by most operators and earning more from emerging high-speed data services. At an event in Paris, Orange CEO Stephane Richard outlined plans to boost mobile and fibre network speeds, launch a new Livebox for its home broadband customers, introduce free cloud storage for mobile and fixed users, and expand mobile messaging and VoIP services through new applications and a partnership to offer group calls over Facebook. 

Most of the new services will hit the market in the first half of 2013. A media campaign designed with Havas will present the services across a range of channels to Orange employees, partners and industry stakeholders. 

The event marks the expansion of Orange's LTE service beyond the first trial market of Marseille, launched in June, to the cities of Lyon, Lille and Nantes. The 4G offering will be marketed from 22 November for corporate customers, on a 15GB plan available with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 or Huawei E392 modem. From February 2013, Orange will start selling 4G devices, including phones, for consumers and launch new data plans for fixed and mobile customers including the faster speeds. By April, the 4G service should be available in ten cities. 

Orange also promised to boost speeds on its fibre networks to 200Mbps from February 2013, to coincide with the launch of the new Livebox Play home gateway.

The Livebox Play can be previewed online at the Orange France website, and customers can pre-register for the box from 22 November in order to get a special offer when the device launches in February 2013. Featuring a simplified design with a control screen and more efficient energy use, the new box adds functions such as support for FTTx, DECT cat-iq, dual-band Wi-Fi and networking with other devices in the home. A mobile app offers control of all the networked devices and settings such as parental controls. 

The companion Livebox Play TV decoder supports multi-room viewing, access to online content and over 100 games, integrated social networking and a new user interface with programming recommendations and enhanced language and screen settings. The new remote control supports gesture controls and can be rotated to become a keyboard for typing. An associated mobile app can also work as a remote control.  

Customers with a Livebox Play on fibre networks and 4G users will get up to 100GB free online storage on the new service Orange Cloud from February. Customers on an existing Origami, Open or Livebox plan will get up to 50GB from December, with access to the service not counting towards their data allowances. 

To combat the rise of free messaging apps like WhatsApp, Orange announced the expansion of the GSMA-backed Joyn messaging and file-sharing service to new markets in 2013. Already deployed in Spain, the service will launch in Belgium, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and France in 2013. Orange said it will be the first operator to offer Joyn in France, from the summer of 2013. 

Orange is also expanding its Libon app, currently available for testing by customers on its Sosh brand in France. Available on iOS from 21 November, it will launch on Android before the end of the year. The app allows users to make free VoIP calls to each other (over Wi-Fi and 3G), as well as chat through instant messaging. It also comes with a voicemail service, on which users can create personalised welcome messages for callers. A premium version offers an hour of calls to fixed and mobile lines in 31 countries and unlimited voicemail for EUR 2.69 per month. 

It's also agreed to work with Facebook to introduce more communication tools into social networks. A first public teleconference service called Party Call, which would allow Facebook users to make calls over the social network, is planned to launch in summer 2013. A 'voice' button will feature on the user's wall, from which they can call one or more contacts on Facebook, without needing to know their phone number. 

Categories: Internet / Mobile & Wireless
Companies: Facebook / Orange
Countries: Europe / France
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