From GSM to 5G – a quarter-century journey that changed the way we use technology

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 26/05/2022 | 09:00

Orange România’s 20-year brand journey blends in perfectly with that of the development of our country’s telecommunications industry. In fact, the telecom operator’s story began 25 years ago, when Dialog entered the market. We take a look at how Orange România became a provider of complete digital services, with thousands of employees, and came to provide at least one telecom service to half of Romanian households.

By Aurel Constantin

 

The launch in 1997 of the first GSM mobile services coincided with the launch of the Dialog brand, operated by Mobil Rom. At the same time, the operator marked another first by bringing Romania’s very first prepaid service, ALO. Two years later, in 1999, Dialog introduced the SMS feature and the Dialog Inedit subscription, which at the time was the most affordable monthly payment option in the country. That year represented a turning point for the telecom market, when all providers realised that they had to constantly innovate and bring more value to their users in the race to becoming the #1 network.

Upgrading GSM (Global System for Mobile) meant deploying the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technology, the equivalent of 2G. The new technology came to be available in Romania in 2001, just a year before Dialog and ALO became Orange. In 2002, the Orange brand was officially launched in our country under the slogan “The future is bright, the future is Orange.”

Innovation never stopped, especially in the area of mobile communications. In 2004, Orange launched the EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) connectivity, another step towards 3G connectivity and mobile data, which also coincided with a first for the Orange Group, as Romania was the first market where the Group introduced this technology, and it proved extremely successful.

In their move towards a modern infrastructure in telecommunications, an industry that was developing at a “fast and furious” pace, mobile operators began creating additional services to attract new customers or retaining existing ones. That was the background for the launch of the Orange Film programme in 2005, and since then, every Wednesday, Orange customers have been able to enjoy a special offer at cinema partners across the country: two movie tickets for the price of one.

The development of mobile data started in 2006, when 3G technology became available in Romania. Orange was the first operator to offer access to 3G connectivity and in the first three days after the launch, over 25,000 Orange customers opted for 3G services. One year later, the 3G+ network was launched in 10 Romanian cities.

The smartphone era really started when Steve Jobs made history by presenting the iPhone to the world, in January 2007. Orange was the first operator to introduce the iPhone on the local market, breaking the ice with the famous 3G iPhone in 2008, and constantly introducing the newest models as they were launched. Just a decade later, the smartphone had almost entirely replaced what we now call “dumb phones,” and today we just can’t see ourselves without one.

But the devices area was not the only segment in which Orange surprised its customers. It launched the Orange Young programme in 2007, with benefits and special offers for people aged between 14 and 26, and one year later, Orange reached 10 million customers in Romania. Moving forward and acting on the desire to invest in projects for community development and digital education, the company launched the Orange Foundation in 2012.

In 2014, when Orange already had TV services in its portfolio, we saw the launch of 4G technology, which became available in over 1,000 localities in the country within a year. The fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology meant improved mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and even 3D television. It was the technology that continues to improves the life of rural communities by bringing them the advantages of broadband communications, a very important service, especially in challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, only five years later, Orange launched 5G technology, and Romania was again the first country in the group to benefit from this service. 5G is steadily setting new connectivity standards not only for mobile users, but for B2B communications services as well.

Today, Orange is the #1 network in Romania, and it is accelerating its strategy for convergent services, aiming to be the top choice for integrated fixed-mobile services on the local market.

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