Lowell McAdam, president and CEO, Verizon Wireless
What makes him powerful: Lowell McAdam continues to ensure that Verizon Wireless is the carrier to watch in the wireless industry. In past years, Verizon has managed to remain at the forefront of marketplace twists and turns, whether it's gambling billions of dollars on C Block spectrum with open-access provisions or bucking industry thinking by supporting local number portability.
And 2009 was no different. Verizon, a longtime CDMA supporter, shocked industry watchers with a decision to transition to LTE technology, a protocol that sits at the 4G end of the GSM network evolution path. And not only that, Verizon is in the midst of an LTE rollout that will make it one of the first carriers in the world to offer commercial LTE services. Verizon said it expects to have 30 commercial LTE markets up and running in 2010, and plans to have a nationwide buildout completed in late 2013 or early 2014.
Verizon also made a big splash this year with the opening of its Open Development Initiative, an effort intended to free up Verizon's network to any device that meets a basic set of technical specifications. The action has since taken on far more importance following the FCC's insistence on promoting an "open Internet," according to Chairman Julius Genachowski, via the imposition of net neutrality regulations on wireless networks.
And Verizon's efforts continued through the end of 2009, when the company managed to steal thunder from the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment trade show in San Diego with an Android announcement the day before the opening of the conference. Indeed, Verizon managed to milk that announcement for all it was worth by queuing a conference call broadcast over the Internet featuring McAdam and Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, who effusively praised Verizon and its data network by calling it the "best in the U.S., by far." Although Verizon did not announce a specific Android device, and trails both T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel in supporting Google's platform, the action nonetheless represented a bit of a public-relations coup.
But perhaps McAdam's most important action during his tenure at Verizon Wireless has been to push the carrier back to the top of the heap--Verizon Wireless completed its acquisition of Alltel earlier this year, a move that added around 13 million customers to Verizon's subscriber base and pushed it past AT&T Mobility as the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. market. --Mike