Carphone Warehouse has an odd name for a company that doesn’t sell car phones and isn’t a warehouse. It is Europe’s biggest mobile phone retailer whose founder Charles Dunestone is on a mission to become the telecoms alternative to BT.
Today Dunstone took the challenge direct to the heart of BT by announcing free broadband access forever for customers of his Talk Talk service. It is a move that will undoubtedly change the landscape for all other broadband providers such as NTL and AOL.
Dunstone is the minnow in the pack but few will bet against his succeeding given the way he has built the company from scratch into a £2 billion business with 1,400 stores in 10 countries.
Not bad for a 42 year old who gave up the opportunity of going to Liverpool University in favour of going to work, first at a computer computer in Cambridge and then for NEC, the Japanese telecoms giant where he spotted the opportunity for selling mobile telephones.
He started by selling them by advertising in magazines and then he opened his first shop. The network grew rapidly as he hired people from Tesco and Waitrose to introduce a new type of marketing techniques for mobile phones.
As BT has been gradually forced to loosen its hold on telephone landlines, Dunstone was quick off the mark to step in with his Talk Talk service. The free broadband service is the latest stage in this strategy. It is aimed directly at home computer users which are predicted to grow to around 20 million inBritain within the next few years.
Dunstone is not the typical entrepreneur and outside of business keeps a low profile. Few will argue that his ‘nice guy’ reputation is not justified. He enjoys public speaking, is closely involved in the work of The Prince’s Trust and is yachting mad.
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