Orange fights back against reports of heavy losses to Free mobile


Current status: 15,000 requests to port every day. Will make €1 billion in six years from wholesale contract

Orange has hit back at reports it is getting an unmitigated kicking following the launch of the Iliad-backed Free mobile in France.

In a statement it said that it has suffered a net loss of just over 200,000 customers since Free's launch on 10 January 2012. Just over a million customers left Orange "in favour of the competition" Orange said, in the period between 1 January and 15 February, while 837,000 people joined the carrier in that period. To put that into context, Orange has 27 million subscribers in France.

Orange confirmed that on one day following Free's launch it received 150,000 RIO (number portability) requests, but said it is now receiving around 15,000 requests a day. It also adds that not all requests lead to an actual termination of an account.

The operator also praised its own efforts in leading a "commercial counter attack" against Free, by pushing out some new tariffs through its low cost Sosh brand. The new tariffs included three commitment-free SIM-only offers from €9.90 (2 hours voice, unlimited SMS / MMS / WiFi) to €24.90 (100% unlimited). They had attracted a total of 90,000 Sosh subscribers as at 15 February 2012. The Orange Open range was also expanded and reached a total of 1.4 million subscribers as at 15 February 2012.

Orange also said that its network quality and customer care were giving it an edge. It claimed that in 2011 the percentage of ‘very satisfied’ customers with Orange rose 14%, while the percentage of ‘not very satisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’ customers fell 26% compared to 2010.

Finally, Orange reminded the press that Free mobile has its 2G and 3G roaming contract with…Orange, therefore Orange is looking at an upside of €1 billion over a six year period to its wholesale division's revenues.

Anticipating questions about the impact Free mobile usage could have on its network, Orange said, "The traffic generated by Free mobile subscribers could be substantially higher than expected without this having a negative impact on the quality of service for Orange customers."