Orange revolution: French cellco prepares for Armenian launch

10 Sep 2009

France Telecom (Orange) says it is on course to launch a mobile service in Armenia by the end of the year, says Bruno Duthoit, the CEO of the newly registered Orange (Armenia) operation. Online news portal azatutyun.am quotes the official as saying the French heavyweight is unphased at the prospect of entering a market that is approaching saturation levels. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Orange was unveiled as the winner of Armenia’s third mobile operator licence in October 2008, after submitting the highest bid in the ongoing tender process. The French telco was one of three groups shortlisted in August that year to participate in an international tender for the third mobile concession. To the surprise of some industry watchers, Orange tendered roughly EUR51.5 million (USD72 million) for the concession, roughly five times the state’s EUR10 million minimum asking price. The other bidders, Tele2 of Sweden and the UK-Irish group Blackrock Communications, bid EUR45.6 million and EUR31.7 million, respectively.

Duthoit said Orange (Armenia) believes that is still room for a new operator to make a healthy profit in the domestic mobile market. ‘Meeting many people and looking into market studies, I get the impression that many clients are awaiting an enlargement of their choice,’ he said, adding: ‘In particular, there are people who still don’t use mobile phones or use the services provided by the other operators but would like to have more choice in the terms of the quality of the services.’ Orange’s business plan in Armenia focuses more on enticing new users on the strength of its market novelty, rather than offering dramatic price cuts. Hinting at ‘a new approach, a new perception, a new image and perhaps certain new services’, Orange is thought to favour an emphasis on third-generation mobile services, especially mobile broadband.