Orange France has announced plans to roll-out a network of public wireless LAN (WLAN) hotspots in French hotels, airports and motorway service stations, following in the footsteps of BT which unveiled a similar scheme last month. The French cellco first announced a commitment to WLAN earlier this month, but until now had not revealed any plans to launch the service commercially. It aims to bring 400 key sites online by the end of 2003, with plans to cover around 50% of France’s total major business centres by 2005. WLAN packages will be tailor made for different site owners and will include ADSL connection, maintenance and support.
Meanwhile Orange said it was already involved in talks with various equipment suppliers over the rollout of its 3G networks. It currently has contracts with Ericsson, Alcatel and Nokia, but these are due to end in the autumn and the cellco is now looking to contract a supplier for the 3G networks across all its international operations. In addition to its current partners, Orange is in talks with Nortel Networks, Siemens and Motorola as well as several other unnamed smaller companies. According to Didier Quillot, president of Orange France, the company has a clear ranking of the suppliers in mind, although the final decision will not be made until later in the year.