Sebastian Crozier, the managing director of France Telecom-Orange’s newly formed ‘Orange Horizons’ unit – which aims to ‘seek out new business opportunities in countries where the group is not already present as a mass-market telecommunications provider’ – is currently in South Africa to launch Orange’s consumer brands, ahead of a fully-fledged mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) launch. TechCentral notes however, that the launch is not likely to happen during 2013, as Orange first wants to lobby the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to formulate regulations that it believes will better govern relationships between network operators and MVNOs. Nevertheless, Crozier has confirmed that FT-Orange has already spoken to all of the major players in South Africa, namely: Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom Mobile (8ta).
Crozier’s first priority is for Orange to build its brand and gain a better understanding of the South African market. He told TechCentral: ‘We need to understand what consumers need and what they expect from us. We don’t want to disappoint them’. To this end the company has already launched two websites, one an e-commerce portal, and the other supplying localised content, including video. In addition, the company already has a presence in South Africa through Orange Business Services, which has an office in Sandton, and a staff complement of about 80 people.
Regarding the projected MVNO, Crozier said that Orange has no interest in simply being a brand licensee, and wants to ‘own a part of the network … Orange hosts MVNOs, so we know how to do it’. Interestingly, he added that Orange is not averse to acquiring a local network operator if the opportunity presents itself, saying: ‘We have tried that several times in South Africa already’. Cash-strapped fourth operator 8ta, which is owned by Telkom South Africa is likely to be highlighted as the French firm’s obvious target.