20. Roger Linquist, Chairman, CEO, MetroPCS
What makes him powerful: Remember when paging was a powerful force in the wireless industry? Roger Linquist certainly does. The long-time wireless veteran founded PageMart Wireless in 1989 and was a founding director of the CTIA.
That wireless industry knowledge came in handy when Linquist founded MetroPCS in 1994. As a flat-rate regional operator, MetroPCS offers innovative no-contract monthly plans that include unlimited long-distance, unlimited text messaging and more. The company's strategy is to launch its service in urban markets where population makes capital deployments more efficient. In April 2007, MetroPCS launched a $1.15 billion IPO.
Although MetroPCS lacks a nationwide footprint, the carrier recently made coverage less of an issue by ending all pending litigation with rival Leap Wireless. At the end of September, the two companies announced they would be entering into a national roaming deal that allows their customers to roam on each other's networks.
While rumors continue to bubble beneath the surface that the two will merge before the end of the year, Linquist has given no indication that such a move is imminent.
Linquist also made a canny move when MetroPCS announced the MetroFlash service in August, which allows customers with CDMA phones from other operators to bring their existing phone over to MetroPCS service and have it "flashed" so that it will work on the network, for a fee of $30.
As traditional operators encroach on MetroPCS' territory with their own flat-rate plans, the competitive landscape is intensifying. Linquist, however, seems to be succeeding in keeping MetroPCS a step ahead of the rest.