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Europe

Swearing by Broadband

1:45 PM -- It's always nice when you realize that the folk at the top of the telecom tree are just as human as (most of) the rest of us.

Take Hans Vestberg, the CEO-elect at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), for example. He had one of the opening-day keynote slots at this week's Broadband World Forum jamboree in Paris, and enlivened events (those keynote speeches are often the dreariest of affairs) with his impressive use of English vernacular. (See Ericsson Names New CEO.)

Vestberg was about halfway through his presentation when, to his horror, someone called him on his mobile phone, which was on the podium in front of him. He did at least have the ringtone volume turned down, but the call signal interfered with the public address system, creating that all too familiar buzzing and fizzing noise over the speaker system.

All credit to Vestberg, he held up his device, switched it off -- "You press this button on a Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications device," he quipped -- before checking with the rest of the audience if they still had their devices switched on, a question that raised warm laughter from the packed auditorium.

But the moment got the better of him, and just when he seemed to have recovered from his faux pas, that most common of expletives, "Oh sh*t," joined his keynote transcript. Much to the delight of the audience, it must be said, as they certainly didn't think any worse of him for the slip. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he came across as very human, humble, and in possession of a self-deprecating sense of humor, all traits that are to his credit.

So the next time Vestberg's in action, reserve me a seat in the front row. In terms of keynote entertainment, the Ericsson man has the edge on his peers.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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