Brain food: Speaking out Peter Erskine, Managing Director, BT Cellnet

Brain food: Speaking out Peter Erskine, Managing Director, BT Cellnet - You'd think the man in charge of one of the fastest-growing mobile networks would be pretty adept with the spoken word - and you wouldn't be disappointed.

by KHALID AZIZ
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

You'd think the man in charge of one of the fastest-growing mobile networks would be pretty adept with the spoken word - and you wouldn't be disappointed.

Avuncular and urbane, Peter Erskine is like Des Lynham on speed. He held his audience at a BT Insight seminar aboard the Silver Sturgeon dinner boat spellbound as we sailed down the Thames, in spite of the stifling heat and ominous bumps and noises that made several in the audience look decidedly unwell.

Erskine rose above it all to give us his perception of the next wave of mobile telephony. At the beginning of 1999 the UK had 13 million mobile subscribers.

By 2000, it had 24 million - still only a 42% market penetration compared with 70% in the Nordic countries. Now the mobile internet revolution is upon us. Cellnet has announced the WAP phone, allowing web access. In the summer comes GPRS, as fast as an ISDN connection. Now let's see who won't use their mobile to catch up on e-mail. And there's more. You will soon be able to swipe in the details of a potential purchase on your phone and prove to a retailer that you can buy the product cheaper elsewhere.

The message is that the collision between the internet and mobile phones is here. Erskine believes this passionately. But then he has to. After all, he admitted: 'I'm betting my company on it.'

Key moment: The revelation that in Finland and Norway mobile penetration among 18 to 24-year-olds is 105% - one in 20 youngsters there have two mobiles.

Key lesson: Erskine didn't take himself too seriously. He admitted to knowing laughter that the Cellnet signal still drops out on the A3. He should try the M3.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?

e-mail: khalida@azizcorp.com.

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