Hutchison cans Orange brand

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Hutchison Telecoms has announced that it will abandon its Orange brand.

The company will now transfer its Orange customers to its ‘3’ brand and plans to upgrade their service from 2G CDMA to 3G.

The move is aimed at fuelling the adoption and expansion of 3G services in Australia, CEO Kevin Russell said in an ASX statement.

“It is the future for delivering mobile services...the next two or three years will see its rapid adoption,” he said.

Orange customers would now receive '3' branded bills and correspondence as well as offers of subsidised handsets and targeted pricing plans to entice them to upgrade to 3G.

Upgrading customers are also being offered a waiver of CDMA handset repayments in exchange for upgrading.

Russell said the company expected high customer retention rates and said some 20,000 2G customers had already upgraded through a special offer in January.

Service, sales, and support capabilities had been upgraded to cope with the anticipated additional demand and maintain customer satisfaction, he added.

IDC research director for telecommunications and consumer, Landry Fevre, said in light of Telstra’s intentions to end its CDMA service in 2008 the move was expected.

“The Orange brand was one of the more profitable voice services in Australia,” he said. “They have around 400,000 subscribers so the issue will be the pace of customer migration.”

Fevre said the company could expect strong competition from telcos such as Optus and Telstra as they tried to pick off its customers while they migrated.

“Orange customers are particularly price-sensitive so services like the free Orange to Orange calls will be important,” he said.

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