UCOM confirms plan to drop Orange name from April

23 Mar 2016

Yerevan-based broadband internet provider UCOM has officially announced plans to drop the Orange name from its recently acquired mobile subsidiary, with the rebranding exercise set to kick off in earnest next month, at all Orange Armenia offices and outlets. UCOM chief executive officer Hayk Yesayan said the company will unify under the preferred single brand name, although, for now at least, all existing Orange Armenia tariff offers, including tariffs for roaming and international calls, will remain in place.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month a series of promotional videos emerged on Armenian TV showing users that the cellco’s brand colour was set to change from orange (Orange Armenia) to green (UCOM’s preferred brand colour). At the time, though, it was unclear as to the full implications of the proposed rebranding, given that the only text accompanying the adverts said that the ‘Time has Come’ – implying the planned rebrand. Also in March, Mr Yesayan went on record as saying that UCOM had signed a ‘major contract’ with Ericsson of Sweden for the supply of a new 4G LTE network. Under the deal, UCOM plans to invest USD20 million this year alone, purchasing radio equipment for the new system. Further, Yesayan says that ultimately the altnet’s 4G network will cover more than 95% of the Armenian population, with initial base stations being deployed in Yerevan and the regions.

UCOM completed the merger and reorganisation of Orange Armenia in January this year; no financial details of the deal were disclosed, although Orange is known to have spent upwards of USD350 million in the venture – including its mobile licence. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, 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. The French giant said when announcing the sale last August 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’. The 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, has effectively created a new converged player which is able to offer a range of fixed and mobile services.

Armenia, Ucom, Ucom (formerly Orange Armenia)