Orange promises clearer corporate pricing

In an effort to enhance its appeal to business users, Orange has launched another new pricing model, Business Advantage

Mobile network operator Orange is hoping to attract more business customers with a new flat-rate tariff, which it says is easier for users to understand.

The tariff will cover all services, domestic and overseas, but the company has yet to fix a rate on calls made from abroad.

Orange Business Advance is a bundling scheme that will include pricing for UK and international roaming calls, text and data within a single tariff that can be shared between up to 200 multiple users.

There are six different bundles priced from £400 to £10,000. The cost of some services will vary depending on the size of plan purchased.

On the lowest plan, Business Advance 400, standard calls (calls made to other Orange users) are 7.5p each irrespective of length and calls to other networks are 27p. At the lowest rate — on the highest spending plan, Business Advance 10000 — the prices are 5p and 23p respectively.

Calls to landlines also vary (from 7p to 9.2p) but apart from that all calls are at low flat fees, regardless of which plan is used, and in many cases are free — for example all calls between "sharers" (such as Orange users within the user's company) are free. WAP connections are a flat-rate 10p.

According to Orange, the pricing plan "is designed to provide a common-sense alternative to complex mobile tariffs, delivering better budget control, more transparency and greater cost predictability".

Its big advantage, the company says, is that it gives users "the freedom to spend their bundle as they wish without having to commit to specific amounts of voice or data." Users also aren't forced to spend or lose all of their bundle each month.

The exception to this is in overseas calls, and especially data calls. As Orange revealed in December it will not make an announcement on any changes to its charges for roaming until early summer. These plans remain the same, a spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. "For international roaming there is no change."

Downloading data with Orange normally costs £8 per MB and the actual amount charged can suddenly fluctuate enormously when roaming, as several angry users have found out.

Orange's customer development director, Neil Laidler, admitted that over-complexity was an issue for the network.

"Orange understands that businesses want predictable costs and simpler pricing. Orange commissioned an NOP survey last year that showed that 85 percent of financial management professionals argue that complex tariffs and pricing make it impossible to determine the true value of offerings from operators. Three quarters believe the complexity is deliberate in order to overcharge customers," said Laidler..

Other services included with Orange Business Advance include: free answer phone service; free 24-hour replacement of lost or stolen phones; mid-contract tariff review; dedicated business customer services "with no automated services"; and a loyalty discounts for longer contracts.