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Wanadoo to kick off Orange makeover in May

All change - again

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Wanadoo is to complete its second rebranding in two years when it changes its name to Orange sometime during the next month.

Details of the costly name change were released yesterday during an analyst's conference as execs at parent company France Telecom confirmed it would take place in the UK before the end of Q2 and in Spain by the end of Q3.

For the UK, that means the ISP - which used to be known as Freeserve before being bought by France Telecom - is within weeks of ditching the Wanadoo brand and adopting the Orange name. The ISP still won't say exactly when the relaunch will happen, but it seems the end of May or early June is favourite.

That's because Wanadoo staff are already letting the odd detail slip. One reader who wrote in yesterday told us: "I just phoned Wanadoo to try and switch ISPs and they said they'd give me a month's free broadband so I could stay until their new packages came out in June."

The launch of new packages is likely to coincide with the rebranding, and mirrors the approach used by the firm when it changed its name from Freeserve to Wanadoo in 2004.

But what of the "new packages"? Execs yesterday were just as evasive on the matter. They admitted that the launch of Carphone Warehouse's "free broadband forever" offer did see an increase in the number of people leaving Wanadoo, but that has now slowed, they said.

And while they claim they have a solution that is "more competitive than anyone else", the firm is also keen not to see revenues clobbered by "free" offers.

Unlike Carphone, which is making a land grab for new consumers, Wanadoo has two million punters while Orange has 15m users. Industry insiders predict that Orange's new bundled packages are likely to reward loyalty and those taking bundled services, rather than an all-out assault on attracting new customers. ®

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