It’s fair to say that Orange is one of the most revolutionary companies ever to grace the British Isles. Coming at a time when mobile telecommunications were niche, geeky and uncool, Orange flipped the status quo on its head and made mobile achingly cool. Today, Orange is part of EE, which was recently purchased by BT, but what is the history of Orange? What services do they still operate, and how can you get in touch with them? Read on to find out.
Where did Orange come from?
The history of Orange begins in 1990, with the foundation of Microtel Communications Ltd. It was a consortium formed by the Pactel Corporation, British Aerospace, Millicom and Matra. In these earliest days, each founding partner contributed expertise and technology, however, a takeover was on the horizon.
British Aerospace (BAe) announced in late 1990 that they had secured 100% of Microtel, but it wouldn’t last for long. Hutchison Whampoa (who presently own Three) completed a stock exchange deal which saw them take a controlling stake of 65% in the company, with BAe getting a 30% share of Hutchison Telecommunications UK Ltd.
Now long since removed from its founding partners, it was time for a rebrand. Microtel sounded like a hardware company, not a new vanguard on communication. By this stage, the company had won a license to develop a personal communications network in the UK.
The branding was tasked to an internal team at Microtel headed by Chris Moss and supported by Martin Keogh, Rob Furness and Ian Pond. It was these four men who came up with the name Orange, a bold and innovative bit of branding which would set the tone for mobile networks right up to the present day.
Brand consultancy firm Wolff Olins were takes with creating the brand values and logo, whilst ad agency WCRS created that iconic Orange slogan – “The future’s bright, the future’s Orange”. Finally, the company had its identity, and launched in the UK on the 28th of April, 1994.
By April 1996, the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange, where it became the youngest company every to enter the FTSE 100, valued at an astonishing £2.4 billion. Less than one year later, the company had over a million UK customers.
What would follow was a series of takeovers. The first was a $33 billion takeover by German conglomerate Mannesmann AG in October 1999, before Vodafone made a hostile takeover for the firm. Vodafone purchased Mannesmann for $183 billion, but had to sell Orange as part of EU law regarding only holding one mobile license. Orange would be purchased by France Telecom in August 2000 for the sum of $37 billion.
In 2009, it was announced that Orange (at this point the biggest mobile network in the UK) would merge with its nearest competitor, T-Mobile. The deal was finalised in April 2010 and both companies soon ceased to trade independently, becoming EE.
Today, EE is part of BT’s portfolio and remains by some distance the largest mobile operator in the UK.
Can you still move to an Orange plan?
If you’re not currently on a legacy Orange contract, there is no way to move to an Orange plan. EE phased out the old Orange and T-Mobile plans for a simplified structure of just their own contracts.
Have EE changed any Orange plans?
By and large, the answer is no. However, there are a handful of nice changes that EE have made to the service. They include making all calls to numbers starting 116, 0800 and 0808 free to customers on consumer (non-business) plans, and bringing the pricing structures for calling numbers beginning with 08 and 09, 188 and numbers beginning with 07 in line with EE’s current pricing structures.
How can I contact Orange?
Orange are available to contact via the Orange contact number listed on this website. Their customer service team is now part of EE’s, so you’ll more than likely be put through to a member of the EE customer service department. Don’t worry though, because EE’s team can handle all of your Orange questions.
Will my Orange iPad tariff stop working?
If you signed up to an Orange iPad tariff, then the good news is that EE have signalled that these won’t be shut down any time soon. We would, however, recommend shopping around for a better deal. The old Orange tariffs haven’t been updated in some time and offer a comparatively small amount of data for the money you’re paying.