Orange Group has signed an agreement with Armenian internet service provider (ISP) UCOM to sell 100% of its mobile subsidiary Orange Armenia. No financial details of the deal have been disclosed, although Orange has spent upwards of USD350 million in the venture – including its mobile licence. Orange Armenia launched on 5 November 2009 and today provides a range of 3G/3.5G voice and data services over a network which covers more than 97% of the Armenian population. It had 639,000 customers at the end of June 2015 and employs approximately 500 people.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, on 22 July Orange Group entered into talks to sell its Armenian mobile unit to UCOM, confirming that the decision to offload the unit formed part of its Essentials2020 plan, which will see it divesting non-viable businesses and focusing instead on providing its core user base with high-quality mobile and converged (fixed) services. At the time, the French giant said that whilst Orange Armenia had performed well in terms of subscriber growth and profitability, it lacked ‘the necessary scale to carry out by itself the massive investments required to enable it to offer its customers convergent services’. A sale to UCOM, which was established in 2009 and has built up a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network with more than 75,000 residential customers, will create a new converged player which is able to offer a range of fixed and mobile services.
In unrelated Armenian news, rival cellco ArmenTel (Beeline) has reported that its subscriber base increased to more than 815,000 connections at the end of June 2015, up a net 20,000 quarter-on-quarter, as smartphone penetration increased by 10% year-on-year, and mobile internet traffic ‘almost doubled’.