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Orange is to offer fixed line phone services to business users in the UK, the France Telecom owned mobile operator announced today.

Piggybacking on Cable & Wireless' (C&W) network, Orange Landline for Business will provide fixed line services with call charges up to 20 per cent cheaper than BT.

Based on Wholesale Line Rental (WLR), it means firms will be able to get their fixed line and mobile services from a single supplier. As part of the deal, Orange Landline for Business will offer no minimum call charge, per second billing, and a range of bundled offers.

But today's announcement is far more important than that. It marks the first stage of a major restructuring for Orange in the UK as it positions itself as an integrated operator of communications services. As part of this overhaul, sibling ISP Wanadoo (which is investing in local loop unbundling) is due to be rebranded in Orange colours this year, giving the enlarged group the ability to add broadband to the bundle of services on offer.

In a statement, Alastair MacLeod, Orange UK VP Business Solutions, said: "Orange Landline for Business is the next step in Orange becoming the total communications provider. We are simplifying communications for SMEs. Bringing together mobile and fixed services reduces total spending and simplifies customers' supply chains and service support."

And while today's announcement only deals with SMEs, it will only be a matter of time before the telecoms group offers a triple play bundle to consumers as well.

France Telecom announced last year that Orange would become its umbrella brand for all mobile, fixed line, broadband and other converged telecoms services as part of its NExT (New Experience in Telecom services) grand plan. ®

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