Orange ups the ante on differentiation once again

Orange Poland has signed a conditional agreement to fully acquire energy company Multimedia Polska Energia, as the telco continues towards the goal of becoming a house-services provider.

The multi-play market is a lucrative one, and over the last couple of months we’ve seen telcos scramble in every direction to secure offerings in alternate markets in search of such a foundation. Whether it is BT bolstering its content position, Vodafone charging towards broadband or Sky launching an MVNO, each are edging into new territories, but Orange is charging forward with some very alternative ideas.

It already has mobile, as well as broadband, and has been pumping cash into content for a while, so why not experiment in other areas? The bank is almost ready, and now the purchase of Multimedia Polska Energia will allow it to expand its energy services to Polish customers.

Multimedia Polska Energia sells electricity based on third-party access to the transmission network, as part of a wider strategy in Poland to diversify energy offerings. The company currently has 75,000 customers, paying roughly 46 Polish zlotys (just under £10) a month, but it would appear this move is about more than just cash.

The team are aiming to develop a number of services which are complimentary to the telco offering. Connectivity and communications are the base products, but then there is also content, the bank, and before too long, energy services. In theory, most of your monthly bills could be paid to Orange before too long.

It’s a good idea. For the consumer, there will be discounted benefits from taking more services from one provider, while there is also the benefit of only having to worry about one bill a month. And for Orange, customers are much stickier considering the hassle of moving once all bills are lumped together in one place. Imagine having to search for new providers for broadband, mobile, TV, your bank and now energy services. It’s more hassle than it’s worth. It also creates a very unique advertising position, which could be quite appealing.

The agreement, which will now be subject to review for the next three months from antimonopoly authorities in the country, will expand the already existing Orange Energy customer base to approximately 100,000. Such numbers take the venture from a little bit of a punt, into a viable business which has the potential to offer substantial returns.

We don’t expect the energy services to be expanded too far across the group for the moment, but Poland has proved to be a testing ground in the past. For the Orange Bank proposition, it did seem to be working out the kinks in Poland before moving forward in France. If the same could be said about the energy services, Orange could well be on the way to changing the telco game.

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