Google, Orange Bring Search, YouTube, Google Maps To Africa, Middle East

Telecom carrier Orange and Google will bring access to mobile Internet applications and content across Africa and the Middle East (Orange MEA), the two companies announced Monday.

The agreement, made at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, allows Orange to offer its customers a range of Google's mobile Internet services from content covering fashion, sport and music, to Google Search, YouTube and Google Maps. The carrier will offer the services on a 3G mobile handset debuting in the area with the latest OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

More than three billion people worldwide use the Internet to better their lives, estimates Richard Turner, director of Android Partnerships for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Orange will run a campaign offering advice to help consumers understand the benefits that mobile Internet offers. The "educational" campaign will focus on the ability for customers to find answers to questions through Google Search or the ability to locate the nearest health clinic using Google Maps.

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The service will support Arabic, with additional languages to be added throughout the year.

The package, which targets the "youth" with high data use on the latest generation of smartphones, will have an option to bundle the service with voice, SMS and data. 

The offer will begin to roll out across the full Orange MEA footprint in the second quarter of 2016. The device will launch with the native set of Google services, and the goal of the partnership is to develop local services and content over time.

The news coincides with global carriers, Google and GSMA aligning behind a communications initiative called Rich Communications Services (RCS) that enables consistent, globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices. 

Carriers have agreed to use a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with carriers and phone and tablet manufacturers.

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