The French telecommunications company is expanding its presence in South Africa by signing a deal with Nashua Mobile. And it says it still plans to launch a mobile virtual network operator to take on Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and 8ta. By Duncan McLeod.
Orange is expanding its presence in South Africa after signing a deal with Nashua Mobile in terms of which the French telecommunications giant will establish a brand presence in the independent cellular service provider’s retail stores.
The move comes six months after Orange made its first tentative steps into the South African market by launching a content portal and an online e-commerce store and declaring it was keen to establish a fully fledged virtual mobile network operator (MVNO), provided the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) first put in the necessary regulatory framework to support it.
The deal with Nashua Mobile represents the next step in Orange’s gradual expansion in the South African market, says Orange Horizons CEO Sébastian Crozier. Orange Horizons’ mandate is to identify and grow Orange’s business into markets where it doesn’t already have a mass-market telecommunications presence.
The Nashua Mobile stores in which Orange will have a brand and sales presence — one in Sandton (Sandton City), one in Pretoria (Brooklyn Mall) and two in Cape Town (Canal Walk and the Icon Centre) — will serve travellers to and from South Africa, Crozier says.
Both the online and physical stores will offer Orange Sim cards for the company’s networks in France and Botswana. Other countries will be added later. South Africans travelling to those two countries will be able to purchase Sim cards and airtime before leaving, saving them from roaming fees and potential bill shock and giving them a local number for their destination before they leave.
South Africans travelling to France will be able to buy the Mobicarte Holiday package, a prepaid Sim that has a validity of 14 days after activation and offers two hours of calls, 300 SMSes to any destination in the world, 500MB of data and unlimited access to 30 000 Wi-Fi hotspots in France. Also available will be a mobile hotspot option that allows customers to connect up to five devices to a personal Wi-Fi network giving full Internet access over the Orange 3G network in France, with an allowance of 500MB.
Orange customers from France and Botswana will be able to visit the Nashua Mobile stores to manage their accounts and services. For example, an Orange France customer will be able to replace their Sim in case of a lost or stolen phone, or activate international services.
Nashua Mobile executive for strategy and transformation Tim Walter says the plan is to expand the Orange presence to more of its stores over time.
Crozier says demand is likely to be high given that as many as 200 000 South Africans visit France each year. The number of South Africans that travel to Botswana annually is estimated at about 700 000, he says.
The Orange counters will be manned by Nashua Mobile staff, who have been trained to offer the services, Walter says.
Crozier says Orange remains interested in launching a full MVNO in South Africa and has engaged with Icasa about the need for specific regulations to govern relationship between MVNOs and the mobile network operators.
“South Africa is not yet ready [for MVNOs], but we have a long-term strategy,” Crozier says. “You want to be able to provide new services. The wholesale price has to be very clear because otherwise you won’t be able to compete. That’s very important for us.
“Orange is very interested in the South African market,” he adds. “But we don’t want to [launch an MVNO] without any chance of success. We will take our time.”
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