Interview with Yves Martin, Orange

Informa Telecoms & Media met Yves Martin, VP Group Roaming and Interconnect at Orange to talk data roaming!

What is France Telecom doing to make data roaming easier and more affordable for its customers?

We acknowledge the huge demand for data roaming that smartphones and high-speed networks have enabled.

Orange has long-demonstrated its commitment to delivering a simple, transparent and cost-effective data roaming experience – we were the first to deliver data roaming bundles in the summer of 2009 and today we have a broad range of affordable data roaming offers to meet a variety of different usages. For example, in the UK we offer 30MB for £3 per day for the occasional roamer. And in many of our European markets we have launched a ‘combined bundle’ incorporating data, voice and text in one simple tariff. In France we are offering 10MB, 10 minutes of voice and 10 SMS for as little as €3 a day for example.

Furthermore, many of our bundles are ‘opt-out’ for new customers and renewals so that they can enjoy the benefits of using their phone while abroad, free from concern about high costs.

As well as delivering competitive data offers, our key priority has been to provide transparency of costs to our customers. Orange sends a free automatic message to roaming customers to alert them (text, email or pop-up window) to the fact they are roaming each time they enter an EU country. In addition, Orange has introduced a ‘cut-off’ limit* (€50 including VAT), whereby following warnings (once customers reach 80% of their limit), customers will be cut-off in the EU. We have now introduced similar alerts and cut offs for customers roaming outside of the EU – with levels determined on a local market basis.

In addition to this, in 2012 we launched the ‘Orange Travel App’ that helps customers track their data usage when travelling abroad anywhere in the world. Customers can easily monitor, in real-time, their data and SMS roaming traffic and check how many megabytes and SMS’s they have sent and received in total, per country and per trip.  Customers can then compare this, seamlessly, within the app, to their local tariff plans to ensure that they are within their limits.

Finally, the Orange Travel site (www.orange.com/travel) has recently (2012) been re-designed to act as a central hub for customers across the world to access information on Orange’s roaming services. It includes a short and informative animation to demonstrate how to get the most out of their phone when travelling abroad.

What role does WiFi have in roaming bundles going forward?

WiFi can be useful to customers in a roaming context, allowing customers to manage their data roaming costs efficiently. However, today the handover from the mobile network to the WiFi network and vice versa is not yet seamless. Mobile customers can not yet be ‘authenticated’ when they move to WiFi . Orange is a driving force behind the work being done across the industry to standardise authentication and improve security between mobile and WiFi networks to deliver a seamless experience to customers.

How is France Telecom preparing for the increased competition which the structural solutions are supposed to bring in 2014?

First of all, the introduction of new players is always interesting and brings new opportunities (look at the introduction of low-cost airlines 15 years ago). However, in the roaming context, the business case for entering as a newcomer in Europe is slim when you consider that the roaming retail tariff will already be divided by 2 or 3 by 2014.

For Orange, our key focus is to help our customers understand that today roaming within Europe is affordable and we will do everything to remove any existing barriers (real or perceived) for usage. So right now, the battle is not to fight against new comers, but to remove fears in our customers’ minds and deliver any tool they need to enjoy their smartphone when they are abroad.

Who does France Telecom see as key strategic partners going forward: operators, OTTs, WiFi providers, etc?

The ecosystem is moving very fast, and at Orange, partnerships are a corner-stone of our strategy and we will continue to forge them across the entire ecosystem to deliver the best possible services to our customers.

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