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Orange has confirmed that it is working with browser maker, Opera Software, to research and develop a web browser interface for mobile phones.

The collaborations come as the developer claimed its Opera Platform is ready for commercial deployment.

Opera said the customisable browser will make it easier for mobile phone users to access data services, and so drive data revenue for mobile operators. Essentially, the browser becomes the mobile phone's interface, and can be configured according to the whims of the operator. Subscriptions to news tickers, RSS feeds, weather data and email can all be fed directly to the "front page", and, Opera said, phone users will be able to access the web more easily from their handset.

Eric Dufresne, head of Orange's R&D centre in Boston, said that Opera's standards-based approach was part of the attraction, because it makes it easier to provide a better end-user experience across platforms. He expects data use to rise when the data services are closer to the end user, and easier to access: "This will be a real revenue booster that takes advantage of our investment in high-capacity networks," he said.

As well as subscription-based services, users will be able to access all web content using the browser platform. "Operators can't plan for what every user wants but the browser renders all sites," explained Jan Standal, product manager at Opera. "So you can go where you want."

The platform is totally independent of the operating system, so operators can deploy the same code on all phones. Content developers already know how to write for it, because it is based on web standards, and it gives operators the opportunity to add features to the phone even after the initial sale.

Opera says its it has had lots of interest from mobile operators, and expects to announce commercial deployments by the spring of this year.

The press release is here. ®

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