Orange Business Services, the business communications arm of France Telecom, has struck a three-year contract with Hertz that will see it provide Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity services to support its hourly vehicle rental service. Orange will provide IoT connectivity across seven European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.
The keyless cars, which are available 24/7, can be booked by employees on the phone, online, or via an app; and pool fleets can be deployed in multiple countries where the company operates, allowing staff to book and use the vehicles available at different locations.
The new deal with Orange -- the value of which was not disclosed -- enables Hertz to use a single global communications provider to centralise the management of its fleets' SIM cards and service management. Previously, Hertz had to use local operators in each country to provide the SIM cards.
In addition, customers will have a direct line to Hertz's contact centre from inside the vehicle.
"We are constantly evolving as a business to reflect the changing demands of our customers. Our partnership with Orange Business Services is an ideal step for us as we embrace the future and take on new digital technologies that improve customer service," said Fabrice Genty, senior director of car sharing operations at Hertz.
Orange Business Services' IoT connectivity service is part of Datavenue, which was first launched in France in 2015 and was made available globally in October 2016.
Orange is not the only telco with a presence in the automotive industry. Earlier in January, American telecommunications company AT&T announced that it is working to connect vehicles to each other and everything else.
Over the AT&T LTE network, vehicles would share information such as traffic conditions with other vehicles, drivers, and smart infrastructure. Drivers would be able to stay informed about collisions, poor weather, or other variables that could impact their driving.
In October 2016, American telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm announced plans to acquire NXP for $47 million largely for its footprint in the automotive industry.