South Africa: Orange quietly launches WiFi foray

Telecoms

Orange Horizons MD Sébastien Crozier says Orange is working hard to grow its presence in South Africa via WiFi hotspots.

French telecoms operator Orange has quietly launched a WiFi pilot in South Africa, in a move that marks another step towards its ultimate ambition of becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Last week, as part of a media event hosted by Orange's business arm Orange Business Services (OBS), in Cape Town, ITWeb journalists were transported from the airport in an Orange-branded vehicle, displaying a panel reading "WiFi on board".

According to Sébastien Crozier, MD of the operator's local consumer division Orange Horizons, the company started an in-transit WiFi initiative with travel agency African Eagle on 1 November last year. African Eagle is one of the major inbound tour operators in Southern and Eastern Africa.

While the company has not officially marketed its new WiFi foray, Tom Wright, corporate press officer at Orange, last month alluded to a pilot WiFi project. At the time, Wright said WiFi was the operator's next big challenge in SA, and that work was ongoing.

Crozier says Orange has its WiFi service on board 40 vehicles – mainly in the tourist-laden cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg – which the travel agency uses to transport international travellers and visitors around the country.

He says this is just one of the WiFi projects Orange has up its sleeve, with WiFi hotspots being top of the agenda. Crozier says Orange is looking to introduce hotspots in its own capacity, as well as through partnerships. "Orange is working hard for this."

Ultimately, he says, Orange wants to provide WiFi access to international customers, as well as to local customers.

SA has been earmarked as a top priority for the company as it seeks to expand its footprint across Africa.

Orange has deployed a WiFi solution in 40 travel agency tour vehicles, mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Orange has deployed a WiFi solution in 40 travel agency tour vehicles, mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Crozier is not giving too much away around the company's WiFi plans in SA, saying only that Orange will focus on tourist areas first, and then plans to deploy offers in specific areas for local customers.

The African Eagle project targets the business to consumer segment, he says.
"Orange Horizons works closely with OBS, which is focused on business to business WiFi solutions." OBS, which has been active in the South African business sector since 2009, has global WiFi solutions for enterprises.

Orange Horizons announced it had set its sights on South African consumers a little over a year ago, with the view to becoming a fully-fledged MVNO in the country.