France wants to invest $27B in high speed broadband

France plans to spend up to $27 billion on fiber connectivity. Yet, the plan so far doesn’t detail how operators will fund deployment in rural areas, a sticking point that torpedoed a previous attempt.

Orange customers flee to Free Mobile’s new ultra-cheap plans

Last month we reported on the wireless revolution Iliad’s Free Mobile was leading in France. Now the first casualty reports are in. France Telecom’s Orange reported on Wednesday it lost 201,000 net subscribers in a little more than a month, fleeing to Free’s ultra-cheap plans.

Today in Cloud

Analysts, investors, pundits and press are still picking through HP’s news this morning. Just as IBM did in 2005, HP is seeking to get rid of its PC business. Schumpeter reminds us it controls 18.5% of the global market and generated $9.6bn in revenue last quarter, but Business Insider’s Chart of the Day for yesterday clearly shows flat revenues. High-end servers and storage remain a focus for now, with CEO Leo Apotheker at pains to stress the company’s ongoing commitment to the Itanium chip, but margins are likely to be squeezed as the company loses the purchasing muscle of its Personal Systems division. Despite all the bold promises a few short months ago, HP is also dumping the hardware side of the business it acquired with Palm. The mobile operating system, webOS, stays for now, as the company “will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.” That doesn’t sound terribly committed… yet. Maybe someone in some HP lab somewhere is about to have the brainwave that will see webOS slip quietly onto printers and other devices, as Apotheker once suggested? Perhaps the biggest announcement is HP’s $11bn acquisition of UK-based Autonomy. The Financial Times reports that Autonomy’s shares rose 79% this morning (as HP’s fell 15%), and also points to some disquiet amongst politicians and business leaders here at the effect on the UK of losing its largest FTSE-listed tech company. Both BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones and UK-based venture capitalist Nic Brisbourne echo the FT’s comments about impact on the UK; Brisbourne describes himself as “sad” at the news. Stacey Higginbotham has more analysis. It’s also worth remembering that — despite Autonomy’s Board supporting the offer — this is not yet a done deal. Oracle, IBM and others may still swoop in to offer more money. It’s interesting to ponder what HP would be without desktop computers, Palm, or their new toy.

Today in Cloud

Public healthcare and IT have a long history of not getting along. Complex problems, sensitive topics, intransigent incumbents, and fluid project specifications combine to make these projects prone to cost overruns and failure. Today’s Financial Times reports on a new attempt to deliver something timely, useful, and cost-effective, leveraging the cloud computing solutions of Scotland’s Flexiant. The system, to be piloted by a team of researchers from Edinburgh’s Napier University and London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, aims to store patient data in Flexiant’s cloud and give the patient the controls to decide who gets access to which details, when. Healthcare professionals, carers, and family could all have timely access to an authoritative view of the patient’s data, which in principle leads to better decision making… and better outcomes for the patient.

Can the FT help publishers quit their Apple addiction?

The Financial Times has struck out on its own against Apple, urging subscribers to switch away from iTunes in favor of a dedicated HTML5 app. It helps the venerable newspaper break free of Steve Jobs’s iron grip — but will others follow suit?

In France, Vivendi Gets The Broadband Fever

A few weeks after it announced a $18.9 billion merger with gaming company Activision, French conglomerate Vivendi has decided to go shopping again. It is buying 28.64 percent stake in broadband and telephone company neuf Cegetel for $6.4 billion. Vivendi’s mobile division, SFR, owns 40.5 percent of neuf. There had been rumors that Vivendi would buy neuf for $7.2 billion. This makes Vivendi a strong competitor to France Telecom when it comes to triple-play offerings.