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.