Orange kicks off 3G trials in UK and France

Villes Orange 3G

Orange has set up commercial trials of its 3G network in France and the UK, ahead of a full launch later this year.

In France, Orange is running the trials, called 'Villes Orange 3G', with 4,000 subscribers. The basic trial package is designed to test the customer experience of 3G, and to answer questions about the tariffs, the quality of available handsets and PDAs and customer service. Testers will pay more to experiment with video calling and multimedia content. Orange has run similar trials in the UK since midway through 2003.

Orange has signed up Nokia, Alcatel and Nortel as 3G equipment suppliers. The company says it aims to build a robust and interoperable network which will create a consistent experience for customers, regardless of their location.

Yesterday's announcement places Orange a little way behind rivals Vodafone and T-Mobile which this month both introduced limited deployment of 3G data services in the UK. 3 is still the only UK provider offering more than data services - i.e. - voice.

Orange has also established a series of developer centres, where local developers can test 3G services and applications in a simulated 3G environment.

Developer centres in the UK, France and Thailand are open and ready for use now, says the company, which is to open centres in the Netherlands, China, Japan and three in the USA during 2004. Six of the sites will be based in Alcatel's 3G Reality Centres.

Orange say the centres will stimulate applications development and provide a foundation for the growing developer community. ®

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