& cplSiteName &

Is Orange Really Innovating?

Ray Le Maistre
11/30/2012
50%
50%

Orange (NYSE: FTE) has unveiled a menu of what it is calling "major innovations" for its domestic customers as it seeks to keep pace with its domestic telco and Web-based rivals.

Like all other traditional telecom operators, Orange is under pressure from its traditional rivals -- most notably Iliad (Euronext: ILD) (best known for its Free brand) in recent times -- and Web services players that regard anyone and everyone connected to the Internet as potential users of their over-the-top (OTT) applications. (See Euronews: FT's Q1 Suffers Free Fall and Euronews: Iliad's Clogging Our Network, Says FT.)

But what exactly passes for "major innovations" at a Tier 1 telco such as Orange? It's a mixed bag that's for sure: If a startup took the majority of these "innovations" to investors or analysts, they'd likely be shown the door before the end of their presentation.

But "innovation" means something different in telco-land: It usually means 'doing something we haven't done before.'

Even by that criterion, some of these new services don't cut it.

But we'll use that interpretation of "innovation" to take a look at what Orange is lining up for its French customers, starting with the services that don't really register on the innovation scale:

  • Mobile broadband -- Orange is expanding the number of cities to four (adding Lyon, Lille and Nantes to Marseille) where 4G services are available, initially for enterprise users and then consumers (from February 2013).

  • Fixed broadband -- Fiber-to-the-home services with downstream speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s. A good addition to the broadband roster, but, again, is this really innovative or just something they haven't done before?

  • Cloud storage -- The Orange Cloud digital storage service provides up to 50GB of digital space for each customer (and double that capacity for 4G customers and fiber broadband customers with a Livebox Play set-top box). Offering online storage is commonplace these days, but Orange at least makes a concession by noting that connectivity to the service for 4G users does not count against their data usage package.

  • NFC capabilities for mobile users -- Orange is very keen on near-field communications (NFC). That enthusiasm is not rubbing off. This is another service enhancement that doesn't come with an innovation tag these days.

    While those services will attract customer uptake, they're not really pushing any boundaries. The following offers, though, are more deserving of the "innovation" label.

  • Multi-functional set-top boxes -- The new Livebox Play set-tops do sound interesting, with an embedded 3D Blu-Ray player, two Wi-Fi connections, a remote control with a joystick and keyboard and the ability to split the TV screen in two, one half of which can be used to access social media feeds. This is more about enhanced functionality than just speeds and feeds and certainly pushes the boundaries of what is usually on offer from a telco (as long as it works… ), so this at least moves the needle on the innovation gauge.

  • RCS capabilities -- Using the 'joyn' brand being pushed by the GSM Association (GSMA) , Orange is already offering rich communication services (RCS)-enabled applications, such as video communications and content sharing, in Spain and is now preparing to offer them in Belgium, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and France. While these applications wouldn't cause much of a stir in the Internet world, this is a leap forward for telcos as they require the complex deployment of provisioning and management tools involving various Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) systems that enable Web services functionality that's tied to identifiable user accounts and policy rules. The danger is that the complexity will stifle service development, but it at least represents a step in the right direction and involves a new, non-traditional approach to service creation and delivery.

  • Libon -- A smartphone app (for iOS only currently, Android soon) that can be used by anyone on any network to set up free HD voice calls and swap instant messages with other Libon users. This certainly counts as innovation in the telco world because it has the potential to be used extensively by people who will never engage with Orange as a paying customer -- that's a scenario that historically hasn't interested the likes of Orange, which have always looked for a direct return-on-investment from their R&D efforts. Now, though, like Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s Digital division, Orange is showing signs of thinking more like a Web services player and that's to its credit. In true telco fashion, though, there is a Premium version that comes with a tariff of £1.99 (US$3.19) per month. (See Orange Finds Its Web Services Voice.)

  • Facebook partnership -- Orange has been working with Facebook to "introduce more communication tools into social networks, with a first public teleconference service coming in summer 2013." This service is being referred to as 'Party Call,' and, as Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch found out, will route group calls over the telco's voice network rather than using a packet voice protocol over the public Internet. That's an interesting approach and an innovative mix of social and telco platforms.

    The standout development there is the development with Facebook, though we'll have to wait another six months or so to see how that plays out.

    Six months is a very long time in this market, though. During that time, what else will be developed for Facebook-based voice communications by Web-savvy startups building from Facebook APIs? And what might be available from the WebRTC development community? (See TEF Digital's TokBox Does Video Chat for iOS and OTT Services Provide New Opportunities for SDP Vendors.)

    Orange appears to be moving faster, but it may not be fast enough.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

    (3)  | 
    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
  • Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
    Gabriel Brown
    50%
    50%
    Gabriel Brown,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:47 PM
    re: Is Orange Really Innovating?


    Two things on the list that stand-out to me are:


    1/ the zero-rating of the cloud storage on LTE -- is that for real? That could be attractive to users, and help Orange make some money.


    2/ the Libon app is supposedly compatible with Joyn/RCS. That could be interesting as it's a way to grow the Joyn user-base more rapidly. I'd expect Telefonica's TuMe to end up being Joyn compatible too, although I don’t think they've said that yet.


    Edit: Orange also, so I read, offers free Wikipedia in Middle East & Africa. A different kind of innovation, but interesting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/24/orange-wikipedia-mobile-devices-free

    patentchoi
    50%
    50%
    patentchoi,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:38 PM
    re: Is Orange Really Innovating?


    "..shown the door before the end of the meeting" ... that was funny but below the belt.

    digits
    50%
    50%
    digits,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:37 PM
    re: Is Orange Really Innovating?


    "that was funny but below the belt"


    Then my job here is done...  :-)

    From The Founder
    Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
    Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Charting the CSP's Future
    Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
    LRTV Custom TV
    4.5G Evolution: Peter Zhou on Advanced MIMO Technologies & 5G Business Prep

    2|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


    In the process of service transformation, operators need to catch three major opportunities and start deploying in 4.5G networks, such as video, household broadband access and digital transformation of vertical industries. 5G is coming. Operators don't need to wait for it to happen but should progressively deploy 4.5G networks by introducing 5G-oriented ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    What WTTX Can Deliver

    2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Mohamed Madkour explains the benefits of WTTX while Dimitris Mavrakis discusses the challenges of delivering home broadband access.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Huawei on Mobile Broadband

    2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Mohamed Madkour shares his vision on MBB for the next three years.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Analysys Mason Talks About the Future of Digital Operations

    2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


    The future of digital operations has three key aspects: 1. Highly automated operations for both service and network; 2. Highly converged BSS/OSS for business and resources; 3. Highly merged management and control for real-time cloud native operations.
    LRTV Interviews
    Software Trends in the Telecom Sector

    2|23|17   |   03:40   |   (0) comments


    Heavy Reading senior analyst James Crawshaw talks with Telecoms.com Editorial Director Scott Bicheno about trends and developments in the telecoms software sector and what to expect at MWC 2017.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Huawei's Pre-MWC Analyst Briefing 2017 Highlights

    2|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Huawei shares its vision for this year's MWC.
    LRTV Interviews
    MWC17: 5G, Cloud RAN & More

    2|21|17   |   04:35   |   (0) comments


    Ovum Senior Analyst Julian Bright talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about all things MWC, including Cloud RAN, Huawei's pitch to the industry and the road to 5G.
    LRTV Interviews
    MWC 2017's Key 2-Letter Terms

    2|20|17   |   08:29   |   (1) comment


    5G, AI, VR... these are just some of the two-letter terms that will dominate show-floor chat at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, according to these two blow-hards (a.k.a. Scott Bicheno of Telecoms.com and Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre). And then there's PB...
    LRTV Interviews
    Key Trends for Mobile Operators in Developing Markets

    2|20|17   |   06:37   |   (0) comments


    Ovum's Matthew Reed talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about the challenges and opportunities facing mobile operators in the developing markets of Africa and the Middle East.
    LRTV Documentaries
    YouTube Takes on Facebook Live-Streaming

    2|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Popular 'YouTubers' will be the first to get the new service on their smartphones. You have been warned.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Open Source NFV/SDN Automation

    2|17|17   |   05:54   |   (0) comments


    AT&T ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) code is transitioning into the Linux Foundation for placement into open source. In this video, Carol Wilson provides an update on the maturation of open source ECOMP and meets with industry leaders from AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Linux Foundation and Amdocs to discuss what this means for the ...
    LRTV Documentaries
    Uber & NASA Collaborate on Flying Car Project

    2|16|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Is Uber for real? Well, it's hired NASA engineer Mark Moore to lead the project, and he wouldn't come cheap.
    Upcoming Live Events
    March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
    June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
    Hot Topics
    Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/21/2017
    Broadband Has a Problem on the Pole
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/21/2017
    Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/22/2017
    Sprint to Go Gigabit Crazy at MWC!
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/22/2017
    MANO Marriage: ECOMP, Open-O Converge as ONAP
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 2/23/2017
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
    Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
    Animals with Phones
    No One Likes This Click Here
    Take a hint!
    Live Digital Audio

    Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.