Google TV gets another operator deal: SFR launches Android TV box

Google’s (S GOOG) Chromecast streaming adapter may get all the attention these days, but Google TV is still around as well — and it just got a small boost from French telco SFR, which is now offering an Android-based TV set-top box to its DSL subscribers. The device offers users access to Google Play, YouTube and Chrome, and combines those apps with live broadcast TV. This is the second such operator partnership for Google, which has been selling Android-powered set-top boxes to LG U+ customers in South Korea for some time. And it’s one more example of Google slowly moving away from the Google TV moniker, something we first reported in October.

G-cluster plans mobile gaming service to challenge OnLive

G-cluster plans to enter the U.S. market with an on-demand gaming service. The company has secured an unnamed amount of funding from Intel and French mobile carrier SFR to expand its reach beyond home casual gaming and movie streaming into high-end gaming for tablets and smartphones.

Free Mobile starts a wireless French Revolution

When Free.fr launched its revolutionary new wireless service last week, it put French mobile operators on notice, and they have all responded. The problem is they’ve come nowhere near close to matching the deep data and voice discounts Free is offering.

How France’s Free will reinvent mobile

Xavier Niel, the maverick founder of Free.fr broadband service, will redefine the mobile landscape with Free Mobile, a new approach thanks to a cutting-edge network that blends Wi-Fi, HSPA+ 3G, femtocells and its all-fiber backbone, offering unlimited voice, texting and data for cheap.

Apple and Orange Lose Their Sweetheart Deal

A French watchdog agency has decided that the exclusive deal between Apple and France Telecom’s Orange is not fair and must be suspended. The suspension of the deal is set to take place no later than Thursday of this week. The reason for the short time frame for implementation is to give a chance to Orange rivals SFR and Bouygues Telecom to capitalize on holiday iPhone sales. An SFR spokesman said they were planning to begin selling the iPhone within a few hours of the decision, if Apple is cooperative.

Orange is not quietly accepting the ruling, and instead will be filing an appeal, on the grounds that exclusivity deals stand in Britain, Germany, and Spain, where the telecom industries are similar to France’s own. Orange’s deal with Apple covered a five year term, the same as AT&T’s in the U.S. The appeal process could take up to 12 months, and in the meantime, if Apple or Orange defy the councel’s ruling, they can be penalized with stiff fines.

The decision is the result of a September 18 complaint by Buoygues Telecom, which is France’s third largest cellular service provider. If it stands, it could influence other exclusivity deals between carriers and Apple, although probably much more so in Europe, where business and telecommunication regulations are similar between countries. It’s not likely that the decision will influence AT&T’s deal in the U.S., since competition regulations are not nearly as strict here as they are in Europe.

The current suspension is a temporary measure while the competition counsel investigates the matter more fully. It’s possible that fines could still be issued if Apple and France Telecom are found to be in serious violation of competition regulations.

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.