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Orange debuts Wirefree data service

Third gen services to run on second gen network

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Orange has announced the launch of the UK's first wirefree data service, along with new tariffs and record customer growth. From 1 October, customers will be able to access Web services, including news and travel information through standard handsets, the mobile phone operator said. Orange will launch an ISP, provisionally called Orange World, providing a central portal. Existing second-generation mobile networks will use WAP (wireless application protocol), which allows data to be sent at speeds close to those available on fixed phone lines. Online banking and entertainment listings were also on the cards. At the same time, Orange announced new tariffs from 1 August, comprising of six simplified talk plans. Existing customers will automatically be changed to these higher value plans, it said. Orange gained 430,000 new customers in the second quarter. This totalled 800,000 for the first half of 1999, three times the previous year’s figures. It now has 2,962,000 customers. As a result, it upgraded its UK market penetration forecast. If growth continues at the current rate, 50 per cent of the UK population would own a mobile by the end of 2001, three years earlier than previously forecast, it said. "The fact that Orange will deliver third generation style services on our second generation network will create substantial competitive advantage for Orange," said Hans Snook, Orange CEO. The company said wirefree would increasingly extend beyond voice to data transfer, encouraging more than one subscription per person and leading to wirefree devices being embedded in palm tops, PCs, fax and other machines. "This will open new markets to mobile operators, and ultimately drive market penetration beyond 150 per cent," it stated. ®

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