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Vive La France: The French Tech Companies Taking On The World

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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The French tech scene is populated by huge multinational organisations, telco giants and emerging startups. Here are some of the most influential

Today is Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorating the storming of the Bastille, a pivotal moment in the French Revolution of 1789.

It’s a tenuous link but we thought what better time to take a look at the country’s technology industry and profile some of the biggest firms

They range from huge organisations like Atos, telco giants Orange, and the innovative young companies that comprise France’s burgeoning startup community – particularly in the field of adtech.

So here are some of the biggest names in French technology and their stories. Vive la France!

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Atos

Based in the Parisian suburbs, Atos is a multinational IT services company whose clients have included the UK government, the BBC and the European Union. It is also the company responsible for compiling the Premier League football fixtures.

Its areas of expertise cover virtually the entire IT ecosystem, including applications, systems integration, big data, data centre management and security.

Atos has served as an official Olympic partner since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and was instrumental in the delivery of London 2012. However its involvement in the Paralympic Games has been questioned by critics of the fit for work disability and work capability assessment.

The company exited that contract a year early in 2014, just weeks after the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Schneider Electric

As the name suggests, Schneider Electric specialises in energy and automation and has become a major player in the fields of cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) – important components of Industry 4.0.

The company has been working on energy efficiency in data centres, modular installations and technology that mitigates the threat of an extend power failure. It is also increasingly focused on the concept of edge computing – bringing analytics closer to the point of collection to improve the speed of processes and reducing the strain in bandwidth.

Recent speculation suggested the company could merge with the UK’s Aveva – meaning it might not be as French as before…

Louvre Paris

Free

Free Mobile is a classic disruptor. Before its arrival in the French mobile market, it was difficult to find much value as France Telecom/Orange, DFR and Bouyges Telecom ruled the roost and made contracts expensive.

Starting out as a French fixed ISP, Free won a 3G licence in 2009 with a promise to “halve” bills for French consumers. It adopted an “inside out” network architecture model, using its home modems as ‘hotspots’ and combining them with a 2G-3G roaming agreement with Orange. This allowed it to expand rapidly and give it time to build its own mobile infrastructure.

In 2012, it won a 2.6GHz 4G spectrum licence and as of March 2017, Free claims to cover 80 percent of the country with 4G – although it is worth noting that its agreement with Orange is due to expire at the end of 2020.

More French tech forms on Page 2…