17. John Muleta, CEO, Co-Founder, M2Z Networks

What makes him powerful: As the former head of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, John Muleta has an intricate knowledge of how spectrum is allocated and managed. During his time with the FCC, Muleta was responsible for implementing the Commission's policies regarding consumer wireless services and public safety radio networks.

So it probably comes as no surprise that after ending his term at the FCC, Muleta became an advocate for free, nationwide wireless broadband service. Together with his partner Milo Medin, Muleta founded M2Z Networks in 2005 and in 2006. M2Z asked the FCC for 25 megahertz of vacant spectrum in the 2155 MHz to 2175 MHz band to offer free wireless broadband service. The plan was to repay the FCC for the license by offering the government a cut of revenues. The FCC dismissed M2Z's request because of the fact it couldn't give away the spectrum, but M2Z spent the next two years lobbying the FCC and working with potential partners to prove that such a business model could work.

The commission has instead proposed to combine the 2155 to 2175 MHz band with the 2175 MHz to 2180 MHz band to create a 25-megahertz swath of spectrum that would support a nationwide license. The spectrum is referred to as advanced wireless services-3, or AWS-3, and the licensee of this band would be required to use up to 25 percent of its network capacity for free, two-way broadband service at data rates of at least 768 kbps downstream.

But not everyone likes this plan--namely operators such as T-Mobile USA which is currently deploying its UMTS/HSPA service in the AWS spectrum  and says that devices deployed in the AWS-3 spectrum will interfere. In fact, T-Mobile said the recent tests conducted by the FCC showed there would be "widespread and prevalent" interference. Muleta fired back that the test was "rigged," and conducted under such narrow parameters that even T-Mobile's own WiFi hotspots would interfere with the network.  

Just last week the FCC's Office of Engineering  tentatively concluded that services operating in the proposed AWS-3 band can co-exist with T-Mobile's WCDMA network that uses the adjacent AWS-1 band "without a significant risk of harmful interference." This latest report by the FCC bodes well for Muleta and M2Z proving that Muleta's powerful maneuvering has paid off.

17. John Muleta, CEO, Co-Founder, M2Z Networks