To stay ahead in the mobile market, it is vital to constantly innovate, which explains why France Telecom, Orange’s owner, announced it had upped its research and development budget by 20 per cent.
Part of the extra money will be spent on the convergence of fixed and mobile networks for the corporate space – enabling smartphones to make both voice over IP (VoIP) and video calls from a single handset using either mobile or Wi-Fi networks. Late last year, it followed in the steps of the other big mobile operators and launched a combined 3G, GPRS and Wi-Fi service for businesses.
The key focus for Orange is 3G. In March it began trials for its first services based on High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology or ‘3.5G’, which offers up to four times faster download speeds than the existing 3G.
Although 3G is the main focus for the company, unlike the rest of the mobile pack Orange is the only one to back Enhanced Data-rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) technology. EDGE provides mobile workers with bandwidth for email or web browsing where 3G cannot reach – vast swathes of the country. By the end of the year the company will expand its 300 base stations to 1,500.
“EDGE strengthens our ability to offer businesses and consumers access to high-speed data services in the UK,” says Bernard Ghillebaert, executive vice president at Orange UK.