Orange's accredited IT reseller partners will have access to its new third-generation (3G) data card before retail outlets and web sites, as the firm looks to strengthen its position in the mobile enterprise sector.
Channel partners will be able to place orders for Orange's 3G mobile office card from 19 July, when it is released in Orange shops, but other retailers will have to wait another month before getting access to the cards.
Orange has said the move shows its commitment to VARs involved in wireless connectivity, email, field force automation and telemetry. Resellers will receive extra sales commissions based on subscriber numbers and tariffs.
"With GPRS you needed to re-engineer certain middleware to bring applications to mobile workers, but 3G helps remove this necessity," said Sam Sandercock, head of channel sales at Orange.
He added that resellers will be able to make consultancy charges by adding 3G datacards to their mobility product packages. "Seventy-two per cent of medium-sized and large businesses will have [3G] coverage," he said.
But resellers will have to wait until later this year before Orange unveils 3G video handsets from Sony Ericsson and LG.
Gary Duke, director at mobile enterprise reseller LAN2LAN, said: "When people want to enable their salesforce in the field PDAs are good, but 3G allows people to access more enterprise systems via a laptop.
"If it has the right price and resellers are educated about the benefits, then Orange could have a winner on its hands."
Duke added that 3G datacards from Orange and Vodafone also will help resellers generate more revenues.
"Firms will be able to extend their back-end databases and applications using server-based computing over 3G," he said.
Resellers can sign up business users to a range of Orange tariffs, including a £75-a-month 'all you can eat' flat-rate service ? paying a one-off fee for the Lucent Merlin U530 data wireless PC modem card ? or a pay-as-you-go fee of £2 per MB downloaded and £255 for the data card.
"We are covering all the major cities in the UK, and through our FreeMove partnership with other operators you also will be able to roam in Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as with Orange in France," claimed John Allwood, executive vice-president of Orange UK.
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