Orange UK tunes 3G to support iPhone; but no price war with other operators

In an effort to tune its 3G network to support the launch of the iPhone, Orange UK has called in engineering expertise from other group countries to better understand the technical requirements of the device.

According to Orange UK's VP of sales and loyalty, Guillaume van Gaver, iPhone applications require "short, sharp bursts of data usage, unlike the kinds of web browsing most other mobile phones have traditionally been utilised for, which require a sustained data stream."

"From a technical point of view, we have got a great 3G network to launch this device on. The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has stated our coverage - 93 per cent of the population - is the best, and we have been investing and working to optimise the network specifically for the iPhone," said Gaver.

Dismissing suggestions that the UK subsidiary was putting an inordinate amount of focus on the iPhone launch, Gaver added that Orange had started training its store staff for selling the iPhone, and was readying a third-party training programme also in time for its launch via selected independent partners, including Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4U and a few elite dealers.

The company has also attempted to dispel speculation that it would engage in a price war with O2 over the iPhone ahead of Christmas. Gaver insisted that Orange UK would be price competitive, but was not going to start a price war over the device. "We want to be competitive and we are fine tuning our offer."

While discounting might appear likely, Apple iPhone models cost UK network operators £400-£450 typically, making the margins on them extremely slim and the ability for them to discount stock and retain profitability on sales difficult.

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