Orange outlines ultra low-cost mobile data plan for MEA

BARCELONA, Spain--Orange detailed plans to deploy a $40 (€35) smartphone package in 13 markets in Africa and the Middle East, as the operator seeks to expand mobile Internet access and usage in the region.

The France-headquartered operator plans to launch the Alcatel OneTouch Klif device in Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, The Ivory Coast, Jordan, Niger, Kenya, Mauritius and Vanuatu during the second quarter, and indicated it could expand availability to other countries in the MEA territory over time.

Orange said the unit will enable millions of people that are currently not connected to the Internet to access web content. The 3G Klif smartphone offers data rates of up to 21 Mbps, sports a 2-megapixel camera, and has a micro-SD memory card slot and dual SIM slots. Orange plans to sell the unit as part of a package costing $40, which buys consumers the smartphone and voice, SMS, and data airtime.

MEA has become a major market for Orange's device sales, accounting for 35 per cent of the operator's total handset sales in 2014. While the company said demand for mobile data rose 44 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2014, Yves Maitre, EVP of connected objects and partnerships at Orange said there is still "a proportion of the population that so far has been underserved, not just because of the cost of handsets, but because of concerns about data costs."

Orange hopes its bundled price will bring "access to the mobile internet and all the opportunities that that opens up…within reach of many more people," Maitre added.

The deal is also a boost for browser company Mozilla, as the Klif will run the latest version of the company's Firefox mobile operating system (OS). Carrier deals announced on the eve of the Mobile World Congress, here, mean the Firefox OS will be available in at least 40 markets in the next year on a total of 17 smartphones, the company said.

For more:
- read Orange's announcement
- see this Mozilla press release

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