25. Steve Berry, President and CEO, Competitive Carriers Association - Most Powerful People in Wireless


Steve Berry, President and CEO, Competitive Carriers AssociationWhat makes him powerful: Steve Berry is a newcomer to the Powerful People list but he is certainly not new to the wireless industry or the inner workings of Capitol Hill. Berry is a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience on Capitol Hill and at the Department of State. He also spent several years working for the CTIA as its senior vice president of government affairs.

Berry's background made him the perfect candidate for reinvigorating the Rural Cellular Association, a long-time trade group that catered to smaller U.S. operators, those with less than 10 million subscribers. The RCA, which was formed by the leadership of several small regional operators during a golf outing 20 years ago, was primarily a social group with a few key initiatives. However, since Berry took over in 2009, the RCA has morphed into a powerful trade group championing several key initiatives such as data roaming, 700 MHz interoperability and more.

During his tenure, Berry has significantly increased the RCA membership to include Tier 1 operators such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA, as well as newcomer Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR). The changes prompted the RCA to adopt a new, broader mission for the group. Now the trade group's bylaws say it is a champion for operators with fewer than 80 million subscribers--in other words, every U.S. operator except for AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).

But the changes to the bylaws do not mean that the Tier 1 operator members have more clout than their smaller counterparts. The RCA continues to have a "one member, one vote rule," so all carriers have the same voting power within the organization.

RCA is more than just a lobbyist for the competitive carriers. The group is working hard on some projects that are intended to help smaller operators compete with their larger counterparts. Berry said the group is working on an app store for smaller operators and looking at ways for smaller operators to get more buying power. "We are trying to help provide the small carrier with the same look and feel of a larger carrier," Berry told FierceWireless earlier this year.

Of course, the biggest sign of Berry's continued efforts to revamp the RCA came just a few months ago when the trade group decided to rebrand itself as the Competitive Carriers Association to better reflect its membership and role in the industry.

Under Berry's leadership the CCA is rapidly becoming a force in the industry and one that should not be ignored.--Sue

Special Report: Top 25 Most Powerful People in U.S. Wireless 2012