From Graham Bell to AI, the epic tale of telecoms

Orange today has more than 151,000 employees, a strong brand in 28 countries, presence  in more than 220 countries and territories and 264 million customers worldwide. What gives us our identity is our Human Inside philosophy and also a rich and diverse history that helps to explain our evolution.

More than a telecoms operator, we’ve become a major player in many fields of digital innovation, which enables us to support our customers and continue to meet the major societal challenges experienced along the way. Looking back over more than a century, the Orange story is filled with innovations that have always focused on helping as many people as possible.

Relive the 150-year history of telecoms

Telegraph, text or virtual assistant, the world of telecoms has revolutionised how we talk. Here’s a recap on the key milestones that have shaped our story.

Story of a unique brand

3 questions to Béatrice Mandine, Executive VP Communications and Brand for the Group

  • What makes the Orange brand so unique?

    The Orange brand has always stood out for its friendly and straightforward values. I think the simplicity of the name, which can be associated in everyday language with a fruit or colour, contributed to our ability to form a close relationship with consumers. It’s also a way of focusing less on technology than on how people can make the most of it, and always maintaining a human touch as the starting point for our actions.

  • How does the Orange brand manage to unite its audiences?

    I think the answer lies in our ability to address some of the greatest societal challenges. In all the countries where we are present, we make sure the solutions we deploy are accessible to as many people as possible to promote digital inclusion. This ability to create a link is also inherent to us internally, where the adoption of a single brand has led to us sharing a common corporate culture.

  • What is the meaning behind the brand signature “It’s all about what matters to you”?

    In a world where new uses are appearing every day, “It’s all about what matters to you”, or “Vous rapprocher de l’essentiel” in French, is the promise we make to our customers to respond to universally shared needs. It also reflects what we’ve become: more than just a telecoms operator; we’re a player involved in everything that’s essential to our audiences.

    > Read the full interview with Béatrice Mandine

The history of the globalization of Orange brand

Story of a unique ecosystem

The telecoms sector occupies a unique position in the history of women’s work

To celebrate this road travelled over more than a century, Line Pélissier, Director of Career Paths and Recognition within Orange Group HR, speaks about the importance of diversity in the workplace as well as Orange’s approach to professional equality. 

> Read the interview

For more than a century, we’ve been contributing to major societal challenges to bring you closer to what matters

In Africa and Middle East, where Orange has been present since 1959

Did you know that one in two Africans is less than 20 years old? Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, tells you more about it and about out role of partner for the continent’s digital transformation.

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1,000
millions active mobiles
The symbolic bar crossed at the end of 2016 in Africa.
In 2021, there will be one billion smartphones, so one billion Internet access.

Orange, a key role in telecoms networks development, whether on land or under the ocean

The acceleration of internet uses is dizzying. Telecoms operators are facilitating this exponential growth thanks to the performance and agility of their data networks. These links travel over land, through the air and under the sea so people can access ever more information and communicate all around the world. 

  • Jérôme Barré, in your role as CEO of Orange Wholesale & International Networks, what’s your view on the development of the internet and its uses?

    The internet has only been accessible to the public for the last thirty years, yet its expansion can give you vertigo. In just a few decades, we’ve gone from a simple web search on a computer to always-on social media, massive content production across all screens and the Internet of Things. Today, computers, connected devices, tablets and smartphones are constantly connected to the world. By the end of 2022, it’s estimated that the volume of data transmitted will multiply by eight!

  • What is the role of the telecoms operator in this digital revolution?

    The quality of the internet experience depends to a large extent on the capacity of operators’ networks to transmit data. It takes a scalable and powerful infrastructure to enable ever increasing connectivity for screens, videos and information sharing. Operators anticipate increasing usage, invest in networks and guarantee a high-performing, secure and reliable connection.

  • You’ve mentioned massive data flows between countries and continents. How do you manage this data transport?

    It’s not well known, but it’s mainly submarine cables that can absorb the explosion of global digital data.On the Orange side, the Group relies on a submarine cable network stretching more than 450,000 km around the world.Our subsidiary Orange Marine is a global leader in the installation and maintenance of these fibre optic highways. Six cable ships lay, maintain, secure and repair undersea cables.

    > Read the interview of Jérôme Barré

Find out more? In 60 seconds, have a close look at the submarine cable network :

More information on that subject: the map of our international network

New territories for Orange

Orange has continued to evolve since the early days of fixed and mobile telephony in order to meet the new uses of our connected world. Why is the Group present in the fields of film or music? Why is it exploring domains as broad as banking or cyber security? Discover the new territories that Orange is entering.

The entertainment industry

If Orange is involved in the entertainment industry with the leading media companies, it’s to bring TV, film, series, music and video games to life. Our Group invests in content to distribute it to as many people as possible through our powerful networks. We also stage this content in an ever more innovative way. Virtual and augmented reality, immersive experiences, eSports and live streaming are all reinventing entertainment, as they play out against the backdrop of our Group’s strength in innovation.

Find out more, listen to the interview of David Kessler,  Director of Orange Content :

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The mobile finance industry

Encouraged by new mobile uses and consumer needs, financial services are also benefiting from advances in technology. If Orange is using its network and innovation capability to develop mobile banking, it’s because our Group is considered a trusted player, building close relationships with customers. We can also hold this position thanks to 10 years of experience in Africa, where 40 million customers in 17 countries can access simple and secure financial services thanks to Orange.   

Digital services are profoundly changing banking habits around the world. Neo-banks are attracting more and more customers of all generations.
> Find out more about the results of The Observatory of digital uses about what it calls “Afterbanking”.

Find out more, listen to the interview of Paul de Leusse, Director of Orange Bank :

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Orange Money celebrates its 10th birthday, flashback with Bernard Kouablan :

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The cyber security industry

Our Group’s expertise in securing networks and data positions us as a credible player in the cyber security industry. As a partner for business digital transformation, Orange is also an expert when it comes to data integrity. What’s more, since 2016, our Orange Cyberdefense subsidiary supports companies and professionals in their strategy to protect and defend their information systems.

Find out more, listen to the interview of Nicolas Arpagian, Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at Orange Cyberdefense :

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Health, education, energy: Orange prepares for tomorrow’s world 

Since the beginning of telephony, Orange services have continued to be enriched through technology advances. After fixed and mobile communication, entertainment content, financial services and cybersecurity… it’s time to shine the spotlight on health, education and energy.

Although it might look like a scattered approach, for Orange it is about promoting synergies between networks, new information technologies and the close relationships the Group has with more than 270,000 customers around the world. Orange firmly believes that digital innovation should enable progress for individuals and society as a whole, and this commitment is at the heart of its diversification choices.

The Group, as an infrastructure operator, technology integrator and value-added service provider, is also developing digital healthcare solutions. Its subsidiary Orange Healthcare supports the health sector and its digital transformation. By working closely with start-ups and associations, the Group is also committed to developing preventative awareness and connected medicine, especially on the African continent where mobile telephony is essential and where digital is a lever for inclusion.

Because the internet makes schooling and knowledge more accessible and efficient, the Group is also committed to ensuring online learning resources for everyone. More than 500 Digital Schools from the Orange Foundation welcome children from disadvantaged backgrounds across Africa and Jordan. The Orange Foundation has translated all of the Khan Academy’s courses so they’re accessible via a mobile. Easy access to culture has also become a reality through the Orange Foundation’s MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses, which are free for anyone to join). Since 2014, more than 100,000 people have enrolled in six MOOCs co-produced with leading museums. 
Digital technology can also help to combat student dropout and failure. In this spirit, and also to anticipate what schools might need in the future, the Group also offers “Ecole numérique” in France, a suite of tools and services to help pupils from primary school to sixth form.

Always driven by the belief that any technology has to have people’s essential needs in mind, Orange also makes solar power accessible in rural areas in Africa, where electrification is a priority. Orange’s ambition to provide vital services to African populations, such as sustainable energy, was reinforced this year through the launch of solar kits, helping to make Orange a key player in the continent’s energy transition.

Innovation: always inclusive and open 

The Orange Group has contributed to many of today’s everyday innovations: from fixed lines and mobile phones through to terrestrial, undersea, radio and satellite communications.

Is there a recipe for innovation at Orange? We asked Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer.

  • How has this telecoms innovation approach taken shape in France?
    What have been the objectives?

    Everything really began after the Second World War.
    At that time, the country was devastated, so it was necessary to repair a network that had been heavily damaged by years of conflict and ensure France’s independence in the telecommunications sector.
    In the 1950s, demand exploded and competition became fierce between the world’s superpowers.
    Responding to this was the priority for CNET (the National Centre for Telecommunications Studies), which was created in 1944.

  •  In what way have Orange’s innovations had an impact on society?

    First there are the obvious innovations, the new ways of communicating that are used by billions of people around the world: from landlines to mobiles and surfing the web, which became popular in France through Wanadoo.

    What consumers know less about (but which are nevertheless essential for connectivity) are networks: copper networks, fibre networks and submarine cables, 4G through base stations and soon 5G…
    These technologies make it possible to transmit larger amounts of data faster.
    That’s why Orange has become a multi-service operator.

  • Innovation is often equated with new technologies. Is the Orange Group innovating in other sectors?

    Of course!
    Innovation is part of Orange’s culture therefore it runs through all professions. We’re innovating in the field of marketing, customer relations, performance management and human resources.

    > Read the full interview with Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière

Digital and how it empowers people

 

History has proven to everyone that the telecoms sector is good at reinventing itself to meet the needs of an ever-changing world. Over the past 150 years, telecoms operators have played their part in meeting some of society’s greatest challenges: from Graham Bell inventing the first telephone to Artificial Intelligence, not to mention the explosion of the Internet and IoT.

These technological advances must be harnessed to ensure progress for everyone.

Operators have a particular role to play in defending freedom of expression and ensuring privacy is respected (…) Trust remains essential to the development of digital technology and the online world.
Stéphane Richard, Human Web - Working to Connect Humankind

> Discover how, throughout its history and evolution – Orange has contributed to a more inclusive and trustworthy digital society.