8. Robert Dotson - Most Powerful People in Wireless
Robert Dotson, president and CEO, T-Mobile USA
What makes him powerful: As the leader of the No. 4 carrier in the U.S., Dotson has carefully crafted T-Mobile USA's reputation for being the smallest nationwide operator with the biggest innovations--both in technology and pricing scenarios. In fact, despite its smaller subscriber base, T-Mobile has managed to keep its larger competitors (namely Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility) on their toes.
Dotson, who has been president and CEO of T-Mobile USA for six years, is clearly a marketing executive at heart and perhaps that's why T-Mobile's moves over the past year have seemed so smooth and calculated. Dotson, a former PepsiCo executive, is credited with re-securing T-Mobile's high-profile spokeswoman, Catherine Zeta Jones.
Under his watch, T-Mobile asserted its Android leadership this year. The company, which was the first carrier to launch an Android device, the HTC-produced G1 last year, now has four Android devices in its portfolio, making it the most Android-friendly operator in the U.S.
But T-Mobile's device strategy hasn't been enough to overcome the carrier's slowing growth. In the second quarter it had just 325,000 net adds, down from 415,000 in the first quarter. The company blamed the decline on increased churn.
To compensate, T-Mobile decided to introduce two unlimited rate plans in hopes of mitigating its losses and fending off competition from flat-rate carriers such as Boost Mobile, MetroPCS, Leap Wireless and others. Those plans, Even More and Even More Plus, offer unlimited voice, texting and Web browsing for a set fee ranging from $79.99 to $99.99 depending upon whether a subsidized device is included in the plan.
But those state-of-the-art devices and all-you-can-eat rate plans don't mean much to consumers unless the network they are using is providing adequate bandwidth. Here again, T-Mobile has craftily maneuvered to give its network more oomph despite its spectrum limitations. The firm, which has deployed UMTS/HSPA in 176 cities, announced last month that it will upgrade to HSPA+ nationwide in 2010. If it fulfills this plan, the action may give the operator the greatest data speed in the biggest footprint--at least until other operators are able to catch up with their 4G deployments. --Sue