Orange said the service would expand the current limitations of the popular simple messaging system on mobile phones. Support for large text messages could make the service a viable means of receiving e-mail on the road.
The company said business benefits include an expanded version of text messaging allowing up to 3,000 characters of text per message instead of the standard 160 with SMS messages. Users can also exchange pictures and contact details.
Unlike other telcos, which charge on the amount of data transmitted across the GPRS network, the Orange service has a fixed price. The cost of each MMS message is 40 pence instead of the 10 pence charged for SMS messages. The messages have to be sent over Orange's GPRS (general packet radio service) network.
To send an MMS message users will need to buy a new GPRS-enabled phone and sign a new GPRS contract which covers uploading and downloading data at speeds of between 20 and 40kbps.
Orange said MMS messages could also be sent to phones which do not have MMS. Instead of getting the full message the receiver gets a text enabling them to either view the message on the Orange Web site or get an e-mail instead.
The first phone available on the Orange network that can handle MMS is the Ericsson T68i. A package that combines this phone with a detachable digital camera that enables the sending of instant colour pictures costs £199.
The MMS-enabled Nokia 7650, which has a built-in camera, will be available in the autumn.