Ms Peters, 45, is returning to the US to run MediaOne, the cable group owned by One 2 One's joint shareholder, US West. The UK company stressed that the job, as chief executive of the third-largest cable empire in the US, was a promotion which Ms Peters could not turn down. She was flying to the US last night on what was described as a "house-hunting" mission and was due to leave the UK business at the end of next month.
The news came as a complete surprise even to close followers of the company, who have watched its customer base and marketing campaign expand since Ms Peters was appointed in June 1996.
Just a fortnight ago she was giving presentations to analysts outlining One 2 One's aggressive strategy, including the first pay-as-you-go digital mobile service to be launched on Monday.
One suggestion was that the move could cause a rift between One 2 One's shareholders, US West, and Cable & Wireless. Relations between the two groups have been shaky in the past, with US West apparently unwilling to sell its 50 per cent stake in One 2 One to enable C&W to combine the company with its main UK telephony operation, Cable & Wireless Communications.
Ms Peters was credited with turning round One 2 One's position in the UK, growing customer numbers from 410,000 to more than 700,000 with a big advertising campaign and new tariff structures. The company recently borrowed a further pounds 1.2bn to complete the roll-out of its UK base station network.