13 March 2003 -- France Telecom and Orange France (Paris) have announced a strategic alliance with Accor to deploy their network of Wi-Fi hotspots in 900 "midscale and upscale" hotels in metropolitan France.
Participating chains in the Accor group include Sofitel, Mercure, Libertel, Suitehotel, Ibis, Etap Hotel and Formule 1. At least 300 hotels will be equipped by the end of 2003, enabling Accor hotel customers to benefit from all the advantages of broadband roaming wireless Internet access.
The agreement reflects France Telecom's commitments to market Wi-Fi services that are secure, easy-to-use, and provide superior performance. It will make Orange the leading Wi-Fi provider in France, with the largest network of hotel, airport and other hotspots deployed at the end of 2003.
Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) is a wireless technology that delivers the convenience of broadband anywhere, anytime. Base stations linked to the France Telecom network allow users to connect to the Internet and corporate information systems, enabling seamless use of all types of data transfer applications.
Orange France's service will meet the highest quality-of-service, security and user interface standards:
- The interface is very easy to use, in compliance with Accor and Orange specifications.
- Transmitted data will be secured end-to-end by the IPSec protocol, as well as via the SIM card used by Orange's PC Enterprise plan.
- The network will be supervised, with guaranteed time-to-recovery.
Customers, whether or not they are Orange subscribers, can access the high-speed Internet using pre-paid cards sold at the Accor hotel reception desk. In addition, Orange has agreed to open roaming service to other Wi-Fi operators.
These new services will be intended for Accor customers, and especially business travelers. They will enable users to connect easily to the Internet and e-mail services. The Wi-Fi network will be deployed in common areas, such as lobbies and bars, in meeting rooms and in certain rooms. Orange will train Accor employees and supply on-site marketing materials, such as Accor/Orange signs.
The deployment timetable calls for 50 hotels to be equipped by June 30 and 300 by the end of the year. Among the 50 first-half sites will be the hotels hosting customers for the 2003 World Athletics Championship in St. Denis, north of Paris, which Accor is helping to sponsor.
By joining with France Telecom, Accor will be the first hospitality group to offer this high-value added service.