RealTime IT News

BT Takes Global Initiative with Mobile Internet

Making a series of announcements Thursday, British Telecom said it intends to take the mobile Internet to mass markets, not just in the U.K. but also globally.

First, BT announced the establishment of a new unit to sell mobile Internet services worldwide, and the appointment of Kent Thexton, former marketing director of BT Cellnet, as its managing director.

Second, BT's existing mobile company, BT Cellnet announced the U.K's first pre-pay wireless application protocol (WAP) mobile Internet phone, forecasting that within 18 months nearly all mobile phones will be Internet-enabled.

Third, BT announced Europe's first commercial universal mobile telecommunications service (UMTS), to be introduced early next year in the Isle of Man by BT and its wholly owned subsidiary Manx Telecom.

Finally, BT outlined the full extent of its partnerships with other top companies in developing the mobile Internet, with Microsoft providing applications, Logica and Syncordia being responsible for systems integration, and a very extensive list of content providers that includes BskyB, EMI, dotmusic, The Street.com, Sports.com, Time Out, Travelocity, and Lastminute.com.

The new unit under Kent Thexton will market global services based on BT Cellnet's successful Genie service.

Thexton pointed out that globally the number of mobile subscribers is expected to leap 200 per cent in the next five years to more than a billion, while BT's Internet turnover is currently growing at more than 80 per cent a year.

"The convergence of these two fast growing markets is creating a huge opportunity in a field where we already have a leading position in the world," said Thexton.

BT said it will work with joint venture partners and portal services around the world to develop its mobile Internet. The partners include Viag Interkom (Germany), Telfort (Netherlands), SmarTone (Hong Kong) and StarHub (Singapore).

Earlier this week BT announced unexpectedly low rates to ISPs for unmetered Internet access in the U.K., while, on another front, it has teamed with Yes Television to run an interactive broadband television service as a pilot venture in London from April.