According to British broadsheet The Times, mobile network operator Orange UK, which earlier this month completed its merger with rival T-Mobile UK, has agreed to divest its fixed line infrastructure to incumbent BT Group. It is understood that Orange’s decision to abandon its own network has been made with a view to cutting losses, and under the terms of the agreement between the two companies BT will take over and integrate Orange’s existing fixed line infrastructure. The cellco, for its part, will now offer fixed line voice and high speed internet services over BT’s network, a move which is expected to almost double its broadband footprint. Approximately 61 staff will also be transferred to BT as part of the deal, and it is believed that as a result of the BT/Orange tie-up, T-Mobile may look to launch an own-branded broadband offering.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of December 2009 Orange had 840,000 broadband subscribers, making it the country’s fifth largest operator in terms of customers. However, unlike its major competitors, which have all continued to register subscriber growth over the last twelve months, in the year to date Orange lost 137,000 customers, leading it to conduct a review of its broadband offerings.
Commenting on the decision to divest its network, Bruno Duarte, Orange’s vice-president of strategy, said: ‘We are not satisfied with where we stand with broadband, as our customer base is declining and our performance is poor. But we need to remain in fixed line broadband so decided to fundamentally change what we are doing.’