Orange will offer its mobile customers access to the online social networking site Bebo in a move which signals intensifying competition among mobile providers to bring internet content to cell phones.
The announcement follows hot on the heels of a deal between MySpace and Vodafone, the UK's second largest mobile operator, just ahead of Orange.
Orange has 15.3 million customers in the UK who will have the option of accessing the service from this summer.
Bebo, meanwhile, enjoys a worldwide user base of 31 million people.
"The mobile phone is the 'missing link' for social networking," commented Joanna Shields, president of Bebo, speaking to the Times.
Phone companies may be hoping that customers will switch to the mobile phone provider which gives them access to their favoured social network on the move – allegiances to Facebook, MySpace and Bebo are almost tribal in their intensity.
But over the longer term, analysts expect these two-way deals to diversify, bringing online networking site addicts access on the go from a whole range of phone providers.
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