France Telecom and Microsoft outlined a partnership to co-develop consumer products and services that will leverage France Telecom's strategic NeXT initiative. In a presentation by Didier Lombard, Chairman and CEO France Telecom and Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft, the companies announced the first two initiatives in this strategic partnership.
First, France Telecom and Microsoft will cooperate on a next-generation service platform to enable the aggregation and delivery of a wide variety of services, including voice, video and data. The service platform will use the Microsoft Connected Services Framework to provide a foundation for building and managing complex services using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service interfaces.
France Telecom plans to aggregate, provision and manage a range of new converged services for consumers and business customers. The initiative with Microsoft would enable it to create new combinations targeting specific customer segments, thereby attracting new subscribers, building customer loyalty, and importantly, driving new revenue streams.
The second strategic initiative is a joint collaboration to bring customers in many countries a series of feature-rich, easy-to-use VoIP phones developed by France Telecom and based on Microsoft software:
- LivePhone -- the first WiFi broadband Smartphone developed by France Telecom for its Home segment -- will be connected to the France Telecom home gateway (LiveBox) and services.
- Homezone -- developed by France Telecom -- is a seamless service for communications on the move and at home, using a dual-radio GSM / WiFi mobile VoIP device which will evolve to become a Smartphone based on the Windows Mobile platform.
The companies plan to develop new features and applications, enabling mobile information workers and consumers to access a broad variety of applications and services on the go as well as at home.
- France Telecom's NExT (New Experience in Telecom services -- Nouvelle Expérience des Télécommunications) is a three-year initiative that will leverage both its legacy brands (France Telecom, TP, etc.) and Orange, provide customers with a personalized portal for all their communications, introduce new services, and integrate all of the company's networks under a single management system. The company will use the Orange brand for its mobile, broadband and enterprise services globally.
- With the move to converged services, France Telecom will adopt a number of flat-rate pricing plans with unlimited on-network communications. These include the launch next month of a "Family Talk" service with unlimited, 24/7 communication between a family's fixed and mobile devices for EUR 39 per month, and "LiveCom," a software application integrating voice, videotelephony and instant messaging between fixed-line terminals, mobiles and videophones. A "HomeZone" service is expected to launch in 2006, bridging mobile and broadband services. The "MaLigne" TV-over-DSL service, which has been available in France since late 2003, will be rolled out in the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland by mid-2006.
- Additional partners for France Telecom's NExT include Ericsson for fixed-mobile voice convergence, and Thomson, for a portable, multimedia player that could leverage Wi-Fi hotspots and home networks.