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Green light for Orange clients with free switch to 5G for Paris 2024

In this Sept. 8, 2009 file picture the company's logo is photographed in an office in Renens, Switzerland.
In this Sept. 8, 2009 file picture the company's logo is photographed in an office in Renens, Switzerland. Copyright Dominic Favre/AP2009
Copyright Dominic Favre/AP2009
By Indrabati Lahiri
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The Paris Olympics will be the first to use 5G extensively, for better quality video-coverage as well as a more immersive experience for spectators.

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Mobile network provider Orange is to move customers to 5G for free for three months, to avoid risking their 4G network being overburdened during the Paris Olympics. 

Orange has been expecting calls and SMS's potentially to potentially face issues because of the sheer volume of users at the Paris Olympics and has thus come up with its plan. 

The move will last from 3 June to 8 September, when the Paralympic Games come to an end. It could potentially apply to around 11 million Orange customers who have compatible 5G smartphones. 

Currently, several Samsung models are compatible with 5G, and every iPhone since the iPhone 12 is also 5G enabled. 

Customers will still be given a choice with those who do not want 5G being able to deactivate it either online, from their customer areas, or on their phones. The offer is also expected to provide a sort of free trial for 5G to Orange customers, with the hope that several of them will choose to switch to the more expensive network post-September. 

For those who do not want to pay more for 5G just yet, Orange will transfer them back onto their 4G plans once the three months are up, without fees or changes to their subscriptions. 

Orange's move is also expected to lead to competitors such as Bougues Telecom, SFR and Free to come up with similar offers. 

Paris Olympics adopts next-gen tech

The Paris Olympics this year is expected to make wide use of next-generation technology such as 5G, to provide better quality video coverage, as well as a more immersive and authentic experience for fans. 

This will also be the first Olympics to use only digital tickets. The event is expected to have 8,000 WiFi terminals, 12,000 connected screens and 13,000 computers. 

One of the biggest drivers of Orange's potentially generous move is due to the changing traditions of this year's Olympics, which will see the opening ceremony take place on the River Seine, as athletes cruise down in boats, instead of parading around a stadium. 

This will naturally mean thousands of spectators crowding along the banks, trying to take photos, videos and livestream all together, increasing the likelihood of telecom networks being overburdened. 

Furthermore, the boats also make it very difficult, if not impossible, to install fibre optic or physical cables to them, thus creating the need for 5G networks. 

Bruno Marie-Rose, the chief information and technology officer of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee said, as reported by Yahoo Sports: "We want technology to have a direct benefit on the event. One example of "useful" innovation is private 5G, which would allow us to broadcast mobile TV images, where wired cabling would be too unwieldy. 

"To provide immersive video to spectators around the world, we’ll have to position cameras on each boat and transmit the footage using Orange's private 5G."

Other tech additions at the forthcoming Olympics will include power haptic tablets for blind people to be able to follow the sports. 

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