13 February 2006, 3GSM World Congress, Barcelona.
Orange Group and Vodafone Group (“the companies”) today announced they are finalising an agreement to be the first multi-national mobile operators to launch Instant Messaging interoperability, with the intention to link Instant Messaging communities using the familiar “calling party pays” principle.

Working under the open standard interoperability principles, established by the GSM Association, Orange and Vodafone customers will be able to send and receive Instant Messages to friends and family seamlessly across each others’ mobile networks.

“As we have seen over the last few years, service interoperability has unlocked the true potential for mobile. While we, as mobile operators, need to compete at the retail level, we must also continue to work together at the service interoperability level in order to stimulate customer demand and to continue to grow our industry,” said Arun Sarin, Chief Executive at Vodafone. “With the support of the GSM Association, we hope to encourage all mobile operators to adopt this open, interoperable approach to instant messaging services, to ensure our customers benefit from seamless services in an environment they trust.”

The companies are actively seeking engagement from other mobile operators and ISPs to adopt the same open standard approach, in order to stimulate customer demand and drive the continued success of mobile messaging services. To date, the companies have received support and interest from China Mobile, O2 UK, Telefonica Movile Espana, T-Mobile International and Turkcell.

“Like Vodafone, we’re very supportive of the GSMA principles which aim to make mobile/personal Instant Messaging accessible, interoperable, safe and secure. We also fully support the wider work that the GSMA is undertaking on IP interworking.

“We’re really excited about the potential of IM and building on the already proven success of text-based conversation as evidenced by the phenomenal growth of SMS over mobile and IM on PCs. Initially, we think it will be the youth market who will find mobile IM appealing but we expect it to be adopted by a much wider audience over time,” comments Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, Orange Group.

Notes to Editors

Orange has already launched its own mobile messaging service, Orange Messenger, in France with further launches planned later in the year in the UK, Romania and the Netherlands. It will also launch a converged Instant Messaging service that will be common to both Orange and Wanadoo customers. Access to Orange Messenger will be simple and easy for customers to use as they will have a single buddy list, one set of contacts and the same look and feel whether they are accessing the service via PC or mobile.

Vodafone has its own mobile instant messaging service, called Vodafone Messenger, which is currently available in 11 countries. In addition, in two countries Vodafone offers a converged Vodafone Messenger service, through the provision of a PC client version of Vodafone Messenger. In June 2005, Vodafone and MSN announced an agreement, to enable seamless instant messaging between MSN PC users and Vodafone Messenger customers.

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About Orange

Orange and wirefree and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trademarks of Orange PCS. The Orange group is one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies and a subsidiary of the France Telecom group, with operations in 17 countries across Europe and beyond. Within the Orange group, the Orange brand operates in the UK, France, Poland, Switzerland, Romania, Slovakia, Thailand, the Ivory Coast, the Dominican Republic, Cameroon, the Netherlands, Botswana, and Madagascar. The Orange group also has controlled operations in Belgium (Mobistar), a joint controlling interest in Egypt (MobiNil) and minority interests in Portugal (Optimus) and Austria (One). As at the end of September 2005, Orange had 14.5 million active customers in the UK, and over 21.67 million registered customers in France. As at the end of September 2005 (excluding 9.1 million customers in Poland) Orange controlled companies had over 57.9 million customers worldwide. Orange, along with TIM, Telephonic and T-Mobile, is a founding member of the Free Move alliance. Further information about Orange can be found on the Orange website at

About Vodafone

Vodafone provides a full range of mobile telecommunications services, including voice and data communications. Vodafone has equity interests in 27 countries and Partner Networks in a further 31 countries, with a proportionate customer base of over 179 million.

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© Vodafone Group 2006. VODAFONE and the Vodafone logos are trade marks of the Vodafone Group. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trade marks of their respective owners.