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How the Merger of Two of its Largest Providers May Transform the French Telco Market

The recent merger between French telcos SFR and Numericable is but another example of the broader trend that dominates  today’s telecommunications market: operators are seeking to integrate their products in order to respond to their business clients’ growing desire for streamlined communications solutions. This merger also threatens the dominance of Orange, which – until now- has enjoyed a privileged position among corporate and business clients. 

The merger is a major operation which is poised to radically transform the corporate telecommunications market. Each of the 2 companies already has a significant individual market presence and there have been no comparable upheavals since 2005, when Cegetel and Neuf Telecom merged to form Neuf Cegetel (which then became a subsidiary of SFR). Since 2010, many players have been ‘merged out’ of the telco market (the Club Internet, AOL, Telecom Italia and Cegetel brands, for example, have all been retired). This has been the market's way of responding to operators’ growing desire to at once be present in both the fixed-line and the mobile markets. The merger between SFR and Numericable falls neatly in line with this trend – it would appear that the companies are trying to merge in order to meet consumer expectations concerning price and simplicity.

This market pattern has also been driven by the fact that operators need to invest heavily in new infrastructure to maintain their quality of service. The SFR-Numericable merger, for example, will help both of the merging companies to meet their needs in this field.  Lionnel Piar, Telecommunications vice-president at CGI Consulting stated :  

Industriellement, ce qui est intéressant dans le rapprochement, c’est qu’on a d’un côté un SFR qui a plutôt des offres mobiles, et de l’autre un Numericable plus sur la partie câble. Avec ce rapprochement, on est plus dans la notion d’opérateur global qui va être capable de proposer l’ensemble des services à une entreprise. 

From an industry perspective, the interesting thing about this merger is that, on the one hand, you have SFR which offers mainly mobile products; and, on the other hand, you have Numericable which is more about cable. With this merger, we are moving towards the notion of a unified operator which can single-handedly offer corporate clients a full suite of services.

And it is precisely this new notion that threatens the hegemonic dominance that Orange currently enjoys on the B-to-B market . Orange currently holds a 70% market share and, while SFR and Numericable currently hold 20% between them, the newly merged entity is hoping to attain 30%.

China's National Mahjong Team Loses To Japan

Mahjong, originated from China is considered a national game. The fact that China's national mahjony team lost the the fifth Open Mahjong Championship in France and finished in 37th place out of 51 teams came as a shock to the country. Worse, the individual title was claimed by a Japanese competitor. Nanfang.com translated an article from New Beijing Daily on the reasons behind China's defeat.

Why You Should Pick France as Your 2nd Favorite Team at the 2014 World Cup

Graham MacAree at SB Nation posts an entertaining comment on why one should pick the French national team as their 2nd favorite team after their home team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil :

You'll want to watch France games because if they're on, they'll be lovely to watch, and if they're off it's downright hilarious. The way to get the most out of a combustible team is to follow them closely enough to enjoy all the details but keep emotionally far away enough so that the explosion doesn't singe you too badly.

MacAree also mentions that the French team trolled Usain Bolt after they beat Jamaica in a warm-up match. Here is a photo on twitter of the aforementioned trolling from French player Paul Pogba's twitter feed:

A Low-cost Solution to Heal Cataract in Sub Saharan Countries

One of the main causes of blindness in sub saharan countries are cataracts. A group of french physicians has developed a surgical kit called ”Phacokit” to treat at low-cost individuals suffering from cataract  and help them recover their eyesight [fr]: 

Pour vaincre la cataracte, principale cause de cécité, notamment dans les pays pauvres, des médecins français ont mis au point un kit chirurgical qui permet d’opérer en 10 min, pour seulement 25 euros. Bill Gates s'est associé à cette découverte.

To recover from cataract, the leading cause of blindness in many sub Saharan countries, French doctors have developed a surgical kit that allows surgical operations to be performed in about 10 minutes, for only 25 euros. Bill Gates has provided support for this invention.

Here is a video that explains how the surgical kit works: 

Collaborative Economy Visionaries Gather at OuiShare Fest 2014 in Paris

The OuiShare Fest 2014 will gather thousands of activists for a conference on collaborative economy from May 5 -7 in Paris, France. The objective of the festival is to exchange on a common vision of an economy relying on horizontal networks and communities. Here is a video presenting the festival:

Images of Air Algerie AH5017 Plane Wreckage in Mali Reveals Violent, Abrupt Crash

The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:

Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.

The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.

Debunking Rumors that Algerian Fans Burned Down a Church in Lyon, France after World Cup Win

On June 22 at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Algeria defeated South Korea 4-2 to keep its chance of qualifying to the knock-out round alive. Scenes of joy were numerous in Algeria [fr] but also in France where a dynamic Algerian community resides.

The joy was tempered by rumors that a church in Lyon, France was burned down during the celebration. The rumors turned out to be a complete lie spread by extreme right groups based on erroneous photos. Adrien Sénécat explains the details of his fact-checking on the story [fr] :    

Peu après le coup de sifflet final dimanche, des tweets ont indiqué qu'une église aurait brûlé dans le quartier de la Duchère, à Lyon. Message notamment relayé par le Bloc Identitaire et des sites proches de l'extrême-droite. Sauf que l'église en question n'a pas brûlé, comme l'ont signalé plusieurs internautes sur les réseaux sociaux. Une église a en revanche bien été incendiée à la Duchère… mais en 2006 (et sans aucun rapport avec un match de l'Algérie).  

Shortly after the final whistle on Sunday, some tweets suggested that a church had burned down in the area of ​​Duchère in Lyon, France. These tweets were relayed by Bloc Identitaire and other similar extreme-right group websites. The thing is, the church was still intact, as reported by several twitter users.A Church in Duchère was lit on fire … but in 2006 (and it had no relation whatsoever with an Algerian football).

What is Really Ailing France ?

The inability of the French economy to rebound from the Euro zone crisis, the loss of corporate champions like Alstom and Arcelor and the forceful rise of the far right party (Front National) at the latest European elections [fr] are seen by many observers as tell-tale signs of the country’s relative decline. Yet Nicolas Véron at the economic Think Tank Bruegel argues that while France may have many issues to resolve, “an extinction of corporate champions is not one of them” : 

The bid from GE, a leading US-headquartered conglomerate, over the power division of Alstom, a maker of turbines and trains, has prompted much soul-searching in France. [..] The description of mass corporate exodus fits a narrative of national decay. France’s exports are slumping. Except that on the specific issue of corporate champions, the story is not backed by the facts. Compared with the rest of the world and of Europe, France is not losing ground as headquarters location of major companies – if anything, the opposite is true [..] Strikingly, in less than two decades France has gained considerable ground in comparison with the two traditionally headquarters-rich EU countries, the UK and Netherlands, and even with Switzerland.. 

EU Survey Indicates Correlation Between Anti-Minorities Views and Ideological Right

The French blog Rue89 analyzes the results [fr] of the Pew Center Survey on attitudes toward immigrants and minority groups in the European Union. Rue89 highlights that Roma population are the most ostracized minority group, especially in Italy and France :

Anti-Roma, Anti-Muslim Sentiments Common in Several Nations

It also highlights that negative opinions about Roma, Muslims and Jews are “consistently more common among people on the ideological right.” It is to be noted that it is forbidden for a french public institution to collect population data based on ethnicity [fr] or race.  

French Newspaper Publishes Chart on What Nationalities Commit Crimes

The newspaper Le Progrès based in Lyon, France published an infographic [fr]entitled “”Délinquance : à chacun sa spécialité – principales nationalités impliquées” (Crimes: To each his own- the main nationalities implicated [for each type of crimes]) (see image in the twitter update below):     

In its daily publication, newspaper Le Progrès dared to publish a comparison of crime rates in the Rhône by nationality 

Thibeau Perezat notes that the newspaper did not mention the sources of the data. Global Voices contributor Julie Owono comments that the newspaper failed to distinguish that “Africans” or “Roma” are not nationalities.

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