French mobile operator Orange and IT service provider Electronic Data Services have agreed to extend their non-exclusive partnership and, as a first step in the renewed partnership, to launch a mobile enterprise service.
EDS and Orange have re-signed a master services agreement which allows the two companies to extend their five-year relationship by providing mobile services to users of corporate desktop services.
Under the agreement, EDS can continue promoting its IT services to Orange's base of mobile customers, while the mobile operator can offer wireless services to the US company's customer base.
EDS manages around 3.3 million desktop computers for enterprise customers, while Orange has about 13.3 million business and private customers.
The two companies have also agreed to form a wireless centre of excellence and launch a new mobile enterprise service.
The service, called Extended Connected Office (ECO), will provide remote access through corporate firewalls to enterprise applications and collaboration services.
"This new service will extend what EDS is doing in the desktop environment to the mobile environment," a spokesman said. "By ensuring that mobile devices and services of enterprises customers work seamlessly on our network, we will help them quickly and easily extend corporate desktop applications to their mobile sales and support teams."
ECO will launch in either late 2003 or early 2004, beginning in the UK, followed by France and then the other countries covered by Orange via mobile data roaming agreements. The operator is testing the service internally.
While the cost of the service will vary depending on the size and individual needs of customers, sample pricing across a group of 1,500 users could be £70 per user a month for 10 megabytes of transmitted data and 24-hour support, and would include a mobile device.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service