Orange launches mobile brand for Internet-centric users

The Sosh brand will launch commercially on Oct. 6

Orange in France has introduced Sosh, a mobile-services brand it hopes will attract 18 to 35-year-olds, with no long-term commitments, unlimited access to its Wi-Fi hotspots and unlimited messaging, the operator said on Wednesday.

Sosh subscribers will be able to pick between three packages: two-hour, five-hour and 24/7 plans, priced at €19.90 (US$28), €29.90 and €39.90 per month, respectively. The names are a reference to the amount of voice calls a user can make in a month. The 24/7 plan includes unlimited voice, a spokeswoman at Orange said.

In addition to unlimited messaging and Wi-Fi access, all three plans include the ability to use VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services. However, accessing peer-to-peer networks is prohibited, according to Orange.

Both the unlimited voice and messaging come with the caveat that subscribers can't communicate with more than 250 different contacts per month.

The two-hour plan includes 500MB, while the latter two include 1GB and allow subscribers to use their device as a portable hotspot.

Orange is looking to replicate what the likes of O2 in the U.K. has done with Giffgaff, which aims to attract a small base of tech-savvy users who want cheap services but don't like to deal with large companies, according to Charlotte Patrick, principal analyst in Gartner's Carrier Strategy team.

One way Sosh will differ from most other services is the kind of support it offers. Subscribers will air their grievances via chat or e-mail. Finding low-cost ways to handle customer care is something really interesting to operators, Patrick said.

How successful Sosh becomes depends a lot on marketing, according to Patrick.

The commercial launch will take place on Oct. 6, before that Sosh will open its online forum on Sept. 22.

With Sosh, Orange aims to attract half a million customers by the end of 2012.

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