Telkom Kenya Launches Orange Brand

Telkom Kenya has rolled out Orange as Kenya's third mobile phone service provider, beating out Econet Wireless, which was licensed in 2003 but has yet to launch.

Though Orange has been touted as a savior to the monopolistic tendencies demonstrated by the dominant Safaricom and Zain, it has not offered any significant reduction in prices compared to its competition.

Orange will offer flat rates of 3.50 Kenyan shillings (US$0.05) per minute for subscribers calling a specified group of preferred numbers, while a 7 shilling fee will be charged for calls to other Orange or fixed-line users, said Telkom Kenya CEO Dominique Saint-Jean. Calls across networks will be charged 14 shillings per minute, while cross-network SMS (Short Message Service) texts will cost 3.50 shillings, he added.

Saint-Jean defended the charges, arguing that high satellite fees do not allow for lower prices. This could change, though, if fiber-optic cable becomes operational next year, he said.

In the meantime, Orange is banking on superior network capability and its US$120 million network upgrade to beat rivals and reach its goal of 1.5 million subscribers within the first year.

"By offering several relevant communications services in one package, we can deliver unrivalled value, simplifying the customer experience and ensuring Kenyans receive world-class communications services at competitive prices," Saint-Jean said.

Orange's broadband and mobile services will initially be available in Nairobi and Mombasa and will cover all major cities and towns by the end of the year.

France Telecom bought a 51 percent stake in Telkom Kenya in December. Orange is expected to provide a strategic global alliance, enabling Telkom Kenya to provide world class services.

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