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Orange launches flat rate GPRS billing for business

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Orange yesterday announced a flat rate GPRS business pricing package, designed to help drive the adoption of high speed mobile data services across the UK.

The mobile operator says offering flat-rate means businesses know exactly how much their bills will be each month, and that the approach will provide savings over current GPRS tariffs because Orange customers can average out the allowance of data usage across their entire workforce, accommodating both high and low users.

In conjunction with the new pricing structure, Orange is launching Office Freedom, a service tailored to mobile workers who need to access business email on the move.

The flat-rate pricing also applies to Orange's Wirefree server, Internet or Intranet access and leased line GPRS access packages.

For Orange Office Freedom (which provides wirefree email access to Microsoft and Lotus Notes) the all inclusive flat rate price has been set at £30 per user per month. Orange Wirefree Server (mobile access to Microsoft Outlook) will cost £25 per user per month. GPRS Business Internet costs £45 per user per month.

Pricing for GPRS Business LAN depends on the bandwidth provided, but again is priced on a flat rate basis. For a 128K leased line, for example, GPRS costs £2,800 per month, regardless of the number of users or data transferred.

All these GPRS tariffs are based on a fair usage policy. However, this usage is averaged out across all end users in an organisation so there's less likely to be problems. Orange also says it won't cap people, but will talk to customers about the level of package they're on if they regularly exceed the usage limit over a sustained period.

By 2005, Orange hopes that a quarter of its revenues will come from mobile data services.

News of Orange's plans to make GPRS packages more attractive to businesses comes as a report by Credit Suisse pour cold water on the success, thus far, of Orange much-anticipated SPV smartphone.

Credit Suisse writes: "Orange took a view in late 2002 that the Microsoft-powered SPV with its advanced features would be a tangible advantage. However, the device appears to still suffer software teething problems and only 40,000 have been sold.

"While Microsoft-powered devices may become ubiquitous, we think there remains a risk that the SPV as a mover may be a white elephant for the operator."

Ouch. ®

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