As a long-time telecom veteran, Kris Rinne has deftly climbed the corporate ladder, rising to senior vice president of architecture and planning at AT&T (NYSE:T), a very high-profile position in the technical side of the business.
Rinne, who has more than 30 years of experience in the telecom industry, is responsible for wireless industry standards development, long-range technology planning, and wireless network and device planning for new products and services. All eyes are watching Rinne and her team as AT&T prepares for the launch of its forthcoming LTE network. AT&T said in late May it will launch LTE service in its first five markets--Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio--as the summer gets underway, but the carrier has been relatively mum on details since then. The company expects to deploy LTE across 70 million POPs in 15 markets by year-end.
Rinne and other AT&T executives have maintained that AT&T's HSPA+ 21 network will give the company an advantage over Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Verizon's customers fall back to EV-DO data support, which provides slower speeds than AT&T's HSPA+ 21 network. AT&T's LTE device launch roadmap is similar to Verizon's; Verizon first offered USB modems before moving to smartphones and other devices.
Interestingly, Rinne didn't set out to be a telecom executive. In fact, when she graduated from college with a degree in math, her life plan was to become a high school math teacher and volleyball coach. Instead, a college professor arranged an interview for her with BellSouth, and her career path took a decidedly different turn.
Rinne is often asked to speak at industry events, where she is known for delivering rapid-fire presentations long on details and short on fluff--the exact opposite of most senior-level operator executives.
At the FierceWireless Path to 4G conference last March, keynote presenter Rinne spoke in-depth about the operator's plans to roll out LTE services commercially by mid-2011, as well as the company's plan to embrace small-cell network architecture in the form of microcells, distributed antenna systems and picocells at the street level.