Orange is to outsource the management of its fixed-line broadband network over to BT in an attempt to improve performance.
In a statement issued on Friday, the operator indicated it had not been satisfied with the performance of its broadband network, and this led it to make the deal with BT Wholesale. Orange also suggested the arrangement might help it "expand [its] fixed broadband service for business customers".
"While we have made massive improvements to our network over the past two years... we don't just want to provide a good customer experience — we want it to be exceptional," Orange said. "Therefore, to help us deliver this, we've... entered into a closer partnership with our existing supplier, BT Wholesale, to allow them to build bespoke and dedicated network management systems for our fixed line service."
Orange added the deal would not only let it "maintain and improve" its network performance, but also make the operator "well placed to take advantage of future technology developments as required".
In a Friday interview with The Times, Orange strategy chief Bruno Duarte said his company was dissatisfied with its existing broadband provision, largely due to the investment it would otherwise have to make in its aging infrastructure.
"We are not satisfied with where we stand with broadband, as our customer base is declining and our performance is poor," Duarte is quoted as saying. "But we need to remain in fixed-line broadband, so decided to fundamentally change what we are doing."
Fernando Elizalde, a principal analyst with Gartner, told ZDNet UK on Monday that Orange's broadband customer base had dropped from more than a million at the end of 2008 to around 800,000 in April.
"There have been a lot of complaints about the quality of service," Elizalde said. He added the new deal would let Orange take advantage of "the best things BT is offering, such as fibre-to-the-home", without putting in vast amounts of capital expense.
"It's a drawback for them in terms of margins," Elizalde said. "But if they are able to offer a better service, what they lose [in margins] they may be able to make up in growth in their customer base."