Orange has launched a corporate connectivity offering for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in part made possible by it embracing buffet style pricing for GPRS data transfer.
Orange Office Freedom connects mobile workforces to corporate email systems such as those based on Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes. Internet and intranet access is also a feature.
Before GPRS - which provides always-on data transfer at rates sometimes as fast as a regular PC modem - was rolled out on dozens of networks, operators were not sure how to charge for it, as the regular metrics of time online or distance wouldn't be apt. Recently analysts have such as IDC have noted some businesses have shunned the technology because of fears over eventual bill sizes.
This is why Orange has announced a flat rate of £30 per individual Office Freedom end user, no matter how much data they send and receive. In addition to this 'per seat' cost, businesses will have to pay a one-off £495 fee.
The latest offering is partly made possible by Orange working with mobile data company Seven, which has stressed users can connect to their company servers by mobile, PDA or PC, and that they don't have to use GPRS - plain GSM access (at about 9.8Kbps) or access via HSCSD, a circuit-switched access technology which only Orange has pioneered in the UK, are also options.
Orange's UK rivals offer similar corporate services but have yet to lift per megabyte pricing. Operators in other countries, such as the US, are already offering unlimited mobile internet access for a set fee per month.