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Orange Doubles Mobile Broadband Base

France Telecom's mobile business Orange had good news on mobile broadband customers and data service revenue growth in its first quarter results today. (See France Telecom Reports Q1.)

The momentum in broadband and data service growth that started in the previous two quarters carried on in the first quarter this year.

The operator more than doubled its mobile broadband subscribers, which include EDGE and 3G, compared to a year ago. Out of 111.9 million total customers, 14.8 million subscribe to a mobile broadband service, of which 8.2 million are in France. That's more than twice as many as in the first quarter of 2007 when 7.2 million customers had mobile broadband services. Now, broadband subscribers make up 13.2 percent of the total customer base.

Orange's data service revenues are also up in the first quarter. In France, data services, which include SMS messaging, accounted for 20.3 percent of network revenues in the first quarter, which is an increase of almost 3 percentage points compared to the same quarter last year. (See Orange Does 3G+.)

Data services are growing outside France as well. In the U.K. and Poland, data services account for 23.6 percent and 21.7 percent of network revenues, respectively, which are up compared to 21.7 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively, in the first quarter last year. In Spain, data services account for 12.9 percent of network revenues.

Orange has sold 100,000 iPhones as of the end of March, but the operator did not elaborate today on whether or when it will launch the 3G version of the iconic device or how the device has contributed to data service usage. (See Mamma Mia! Italians Get 3G iPhone and iPhone Data Booms at T-Mobile.)

The number of dual-mode GSM/WiFi unlicensed mobile access (UMA) devices sold in France is now up to 900,000 at the end of March. (See Orange Builds on FMC Base and Unik 3G.)

Orange reported revenues of €7 billion ($10.8 billion) in the first quarter this year, which is up 1.9 percent, compared to €6.93 billion ($10.7 billion) in the first quarter last year. The operator added 2.2 million customers in the first quarter this year. Unstrung will grade Orange on its first quarter performance in the next Carrier Scorecard. (See Carrier Scorecard: Orange, Carrier Scorecard: Orange, and Carrier Scorecard: Orange.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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