France Telecom Research and Development department (R&D) became Orange Labs in 2007. However, before 2000, France Telecom R&D was called the National Center for Telecommunications Studies (CNET). The CNET was a major support research center, back then, for the Ministry of Posts, Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) as well as for different engineering schools such as the Paris School of Telecommunications (ENST). The CNET was created between the two wars as an interdepartmental body for multiple ministries. Moreover, General de Gaulle signed a decree in 1945 that preserves the interdepartmental character of the CNET. The head of the center during the period 1945 to 1953 was Mr. Henri Jannès, a former telecommunications official in North Africa. However, since 1953, the department for Telecoms (DGT), body of the French PTT Ministry, succeed in changing the interdepartmental character of CNET. As such, the CNET became an entity of the DGT, under the exclusive supervision of the PTT Ministry. The head of CNET was a Telecoms Engineer belonging to the PTT Administration, and who was appointed by decree in the Ministers Council on the proposal of the PTT Ministry.
CNET’s first mission at the time was to set up a strong, reliable telecommunication network. The first visible public success was the live broadcast of Queen Elizabeth II coronation in 1953. In addition, CNET launched the first rocket in 1957. Since then, CNET was able to develop computers, digital switching systems and data networks. In 1970, CNET built its first time electronic switching system and began the first experiments with optical fibers transmission. After 1985, the CNET prepared the arrival of communication through image and video, broadband and multimedia applications. The 1980s were also marked by CNET’s work on ATM technology, holography, ISDN and high-definition television. France Telecom R&D, CNET, became Orange Labs in 2007. Nowadays, Orange Labs is a very modern innovation center, as we can see on the video below. The Orange Labs network currently has more than 5,000 employees, including 3,700 engineers and researchers across 18 centers. The Chatillon center alone brings together 1000 researchers and contributes to 90% of the innovations marketed by Orange. The other research laboratories are distributed in different regions of France but also internationally: in Africa, Europe and the US. Orange Labs is the entity in charge of innovation and research with a budget of around one billion euros. The center works currently around six major projects: smart cities, mobile payment, aggregation of content, mobile connections, services and uses, and artificial intelligence.
Photo prise à Marrakech lors d’une réunion de l’ICCAN avec Mr Vint Cerf ingénieur américain, chercheur et co-inventeur avec Mr Bob Kahn du protocole TCP/IP. Mr Vint Cerf est considéré comme l’un des pères fondateurs d’Internet.