Orange to launch TV on French iPhone

Pascale Paoli Lebailly and Rose Major

Orange has announced the launch of television services on the French version of the mobile iPhone as soon as April 7, with 60 channels to be made available. Rivals SFR and Bouygues will also start offering the iPhone from early April, with Orange's announcement clearly intended to be a spoiler.

The service is the first mobile TV offering for the iPhone and will be offered over Orange’s 3G network. Handset batteries should provide around three hours’viewing time.

For those subscribers with plans worth €42 a month and over, at least 20 channels will be free of charge. To access all 64 Orange TV channels, users must pay an additional €9 a month for TV Max.

Taking advantage of a press conference, France Télécom Group’s commercial brand also answered indirectly to virulent words and repeated attacks from competitors SFR and Free about innovation and the lack of competition in France. “I’m proud to work in a company where people have a real brain,” exclaimed Louis-Pierre Wenes, Orange N°2. He thus answered charges from Maxime Lombardini, Iliad’s General Manager who said in a previous interview that “innovation is produced by the brain not by the chequebook.”

Louis-Pierre Wene also gave details about Orange’s investment in technology that reached €3.2 bn in 2008, with 64% devoted to the development and perfectibility of the network. New services represented €480 million, which is 15 % of all investment. The French operator also asserted to have engaged €121 million into fibre at the end of 2008 and plans €250 million each year in content, €1.2 bn from 2008 to 2014.

Orange also rejected the idea that it was not playing the game of competition. “Market shares passed from 49.6% to 43.6% into mobile between 2002 and 2008, and from 80% to 49.4% in to internet activities,” Louis-Pierre Wenes stressed.