Orange and Google partner for SMS services in Africa

Orange and Google partner for SMS services in Africa

Orange and Google have agreed a strategic partnership that aims to provide access to Google services in Africa through Orange’s networks.

The partnership aims to develop SMS-based services which can operate on all mobile networks including GSM. Through this Orange and Google plan to extend the reach of internet services previously only available to smartphone and broadband users to all Orange mobile customers.

In 2010, it was estimated that only 1.4% of the population in Africa and Middle East had access to broadband services, compared to 62.5% for mobile services. With Orange having over 60 million customers across Africa, the move aims to introduce Google’s services to a much larger proportion of the continent.

Orange’s VP of strategic partnerships Xavier Perret said the partnership can help develop the “full potential of the mobile internet to our customers in Africa”.

“The group’s capacity to combine its knowhow on service infrastructure with innovation, and by adapting its offers to local needs, will enable it to provide mobile customers across Africa with access to internet-based services in the best possible conditions,” he added.

Initially the partnership will centre on the introduction of Gmail SMS Chat, which gives access to Google’s real-time chat community via a free quota of SMS to Orange customers.

The service has already been launched in Senegal since July 2010, where it attracted almost 700,000 users and saw four million sent messages by SMS in the first six months. It has since also been introduced in Uganda and Kenya, and will subsequently be launched in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Niger in the coming months.

A trail of the service will also be conducted with Mobinil customers in Egypt, before being rolled-out across Orange’s entire African footprint.

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