The service provider has yet to firm up details regarding the launch of its latest home gateway device, including whether existing customers will be entitled to an upgrade, but unveiled a number of more advanced technical features.
Among other things, the new Livebox incorporates a small optical network terminal (ONT), which means Orange will not have to install ONTs separately in homes.
Orange typically installs ONTs next to optical fiber inlets at customer premises in order to provide its GPON-based services to customers.
The operator claims the new Livebox will also remove bandwidth bottlenecks in the home by taking advantage of new 11n and 11ac WiFi systems, which use spectrum in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands to boost connection speeds to as much as 1.9 Gbit/s.
The Livebox further includes a new 4G-compatible "Airbox" that will provide a link between the gateway and other devices when a user is outside the home.
Orange is using a high-performance processor from Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) to improve computing power.
"In practical terms, compared with the previous generations, this chipset handles 20% to 30% more bandwidth, and manages very fast data exchanges with more devices simultaneously," said Orange executive Anne Le Beuz.
Broadcom chip technology is also being used to support UHD services, with Orange planning to ramp up its UHD content offerings later this year. "This box literally tears down walls," said Richard in summing up the various new features of the latest Livebox.
Besides making gateway improvements, Orange has also added new functionalities to its Orange TV application.
From June, customers will be able to make use of a voice-activated "personal assistant" that has been developed in partnership with voice-recognition software developer Nuance Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NUAN).
"This is the first time an operator has ever built such a sophisticated smart assistant into a multiscreen TV system," said Richard.
Orange's support for and collaboration with startups is likely to have a growing influence on the future development of the app, among other services.
Working with a French startup called Reminiz, it has been developing a facial-recognition technology that will let customers obtain information about movie actors through a simple request.
Another startup, called Wildmoka, has been designing technology that will let customers share TV clips from favorite shows on social-media websites.
Richard promised the facial-recognition technology would become available on Orange's video-on-demand service this summer.
The Wildmoka feature is to be tested on a selection of popular shows on Orange TV, he added.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading