Orange to rival Virgin in quad-play market

Mobile operator Orange looks set to go head-to-head with Virgin media, becoming the UK’s second ‘quad-play’ provider, offering landline, TV, broadband and mobile services in a single package.

Speculation comes after the mobile operator, which has merged with the UK subsidiary of rival T-Mobile, announced a deal to piggback BT's broadband services, which will give the company wider access to the high-bandwidth connections required to add online TV services to its existing internet and telephone packages.

The company has offered IPTV since 2008 to users in France, where it recently signed a deal with Twitter to allow viewers to send messages while watching programmes. Plans are also afoot to offer the thrills of 3D golf coverage to French viewers later in the year.

Orange’s TV plans have had a more chequered history in the UK. In 2007, the company shelved plans for an online TV service offering terrestrial TV channels and video on demand. Hopes were renewed last year when Orange entered talks to acquire the technology behind defunct IPTV service Project Kangaroo – only to see it snapped up by TV company Arqiva for £8 million, and used to launch online catch-up TV service SeeSaw.

Orange’s renewed interest comes after a recent Ofcom ruling that forced Sky Sports to offer its programming to rivals at cheaper rates, or face heavy fines. The availability of premium content at lower prices could see online TV becoming a lucrative business.