A century of influence

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To mark this 100th issue of Global Telecoms Business, we asked for your suggestions of the most influential people in the telecoms industry. Alan Burkitt-Gray introduces the GTB 100

Top 100 cover

Many of you gave your suggestions in response to our requests in person, in the magazine, on our website and by email, and these have been helpful in compiling this list. There were some remarkable consistencies in the replies: Google and Apple's executives dominated the responses, and they have been reflected in the GTB 100.

There is a sad absence of women: Viviane Reding is the only one among 99 men, though sadly that also reflects the industry — Telecom New Zealand and the former Telia are the only incumbents to have had female CEOs; and Pat Russo has gone from Alcatel-Lucent. There are, we know, many at the next level in many companies — BT, AT&T, and others — and we hope they break through the glass ceiling in time for the next GTB 100, whenever that is.

There's probably a weighting towards US and European executives, but that reflects the method of our survey. But at least it's a start — and don't be offended if you're not on it this time.

Eric Schmidt
Chairman and CEO of Google
When we asked readers to nominate the 100 most influential people in telecoms for this issue, more people mentioned Schmidt — along with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin — than anyone else. Rather than give them three separate entries, we'll combine them as the Google trio.
Why Schmidt and co? "For Android," said one. "For continuing to champion the interests of end users by putting pressure on the telecoms industry and its 'broken' business model," said another.
Schmidt, now 53, has an impressive track record, which has taken him through Silicon Valley hotspots such as Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center — home of ethernet, the mouse and the graphical user interface, and a lot of good any of those did Xerox — and Sun Microsystems, where he was CTO and ran the Java development.
Brin and Page called him in to run Google in 2001, when most computer users were still using Yahoo!, Altavista or MSN for their searches but mentioning this new engine to their friends.
Schmidt is one of the biggest customers of the server industry and the telecoms industry on the planet: all that Gmail, all those YouTube minutes, all those cached web pages are stored in server farms and whizzed in across the world in 0.19 seconds or so.
And now Google is taking on two new sections of the industry — mobile broadband, particularly with its investment in the unified Clearwire/Xohm WiMax business, and mobile phone operating systems, in the form of the Android operating system. We should see the first results of that before the end of 2008. The world is waiting expectantly.

Steve Jobs
CEO of Apple

After the Google trio — see above — the next most popular response was Steve Jobs, mainly for the iPhone user interface, changing the way millions of people use their mobiles for internet access. Before that, of course, he was driving telecoms traffic on the internet with iPods and iTunes, and there are a few Mac users out there too.
His vast Wikipedia entry — which even details the make of his favourite sweaters, jeans and sneakers — is testament to his cult status in the industry. Jobs, Apple and the iPhone will continue to influence the industry.

Li Yizhong

Minister of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China
Petroleum engineer who took over a new ministry — replacing China's old Ministry of Information Industry — at the 11th National People's Congress in March 2008. Long-predicted plans to reorganise China's disparate operators had stalled, along with the country's programme to issue 3G licences. Many operators around the world were waiting for the scale effect of Chinese 3G business to drive down the prices of new equipment.
Within months Li put the restructuring into motion, to create three companies out of China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, and all three will have 3G licences.
Li is powerful: his new ministry takes over not only from the old MII, but also the National Development and Reform Commission, the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence and the State Council Informatisation Office. Though he's not a telecoms person, his decisions — in the world's biggest telecoms and internet market — will do more to influence the direction of the industry than almost anyone else's.

Randall Stephenson
Chairman and CEO of AT&T
As COO of SBC Communications from 2004, he was closely involved in the 2005 takeover of the old AT&T (whose name SBC adopted) and then BellSouth in 2006, to create the largest operator in the US and the world. Took over the top job in June 2007 from Ed Whitacre.
The triple merger meant single ownership for Cingular Wireless, previously a joint venture of SBC and BellSouth which had, not long before, taken over and rebranded the independent AT&T Wireless. Cingular was promptly brought back into the AT&T brand, to create a unified fixed and mobile operation which is also moving into broadband IPTV services.
An accountant by training, Stephenson won the leadership prize and the task of bringing all these businesses together after a spell as CFO of SBC — before he became COO — when he managed to reduce the company's debt from $30 billion to almost zero, providing the ammunition for the takeover strategy.
His own international experience is limited to a spell in Mexico City, but he has continued AT&T's drive to invest heavily in international markets, regaining the company's world status after the unhappy story of the old AT&T's Concert joint venture with BT.
His immediate task is to move corporate headquarters from the old SBC office in San Antonio, Texas, to the better connected Dallas.

Carl-Henric Svanberg
CEO of Ericsson
While all around him Western telecoms equipment manufacturers have merged — Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent — or slipped close to the edge — Nortel, maybe, or Motorola — Ericsson has remained apparently calm and stable. Under Svanberg's management since 2003, Ericsson has become less of a manufacturer: professional services and managed services account for 20% and more of the company's business.
Ericsson is one of the heavy promoters not just of mobile communications, with five billion customers expected by 2012, but of mobile broadband. It's worked with Telstra and others to push up the data speeds to beyond what most of us get on fixed networks. He expects 215 megabits networks by 2015, after which 4G, LTE, will take over.
His biggest challenge is emerging markets, which represent 55-60% of business and 80% of new growth. NSN and particularly Huawei and ZTE are all competing fiercely for the same work, and profit on a first deal with an operator is negligible.

César Alierta Izuel
Chairman of Telefónica
Since he took over Telefónica in 2000, Alierta has led the company on a bold global expansion — it's now one of the biggest operators in the world. Most of that growth has been in South America, where Telefónica operates its Movistar mobile brand and owns fixed networks in Argentina, Brazil and other countries.
But in 2005 Alierta took control Èeský Telecom in the Czech Republic, the following year bought O2, the independent European group which had once been BT's mobile division, and in 2007 took a controlling, though minority, stake in Telecom Italia — indicating that Telefónica is now alongside Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom in the top three of European telecoms, and has a lot more influence outside Europe than either of them.

Sol Trujillo
CEO of Telstra
One of the few industry leaders with true worldwide experience — as former CEO of US West, then CEO of Orange in Europe, before heading to Australia, where politics are rougher and tougher than he could have expected and politicians are ruder. But his reported $20 million salary will be some comfort.
At Telstra he's been bold, closing down the company's CDMA network, which provided mobile service to voluble farmers, and turning on its world-beating GSM-based Next G service which covers 99% of the population and will be tested at 21 megabits in 2009.
Trujillo is a fervent supporter of John McCain, and rumours suggest he might be invited to Washington to head the FCC if McCain wins in November 2008. If that happened, it could be a real benefit to the often introverted US telecoms industry, as Trujillo has close relationships with worldwide manufacturers, such as Ericsson and ZTE. But until the election, that's hypothetical; after the election, it might be irrelevant.

Srinath Narasimhan
CEO of Tata Communications

As an executive in the technology end of one of India's leading industrial empires, Narasimhan was given the job in 2002 of taking over the former state-owned VSNL, which once owned a monopoly in the country's international telecoms connections. He has transformed VSNL into a true international operation, putting Tata's $29 billion might into taking over networks such as Teleglobe and Tyco Global Networks so that it now has a presence in Europe and North America — just the countries whose high-bandwidth connections into Indian outsourcing operations. With Tata Consultancy Services, a software company, in the group, he has a head start. Now poised for further global investments.

Ben Verwaayen
CEO of Alcatel-Lucent
When in early 2008 he announced his departure from BT the world expected Verwaayen would take some time off from telecoms after a challenging five years — but the abrupt removal of Pat Russo from Alcatel-Lucent led to immediate speculation that he would be drafted in to take over.
He has a better chance than most: Dutch-born and now 56, he knows both sides of the industry, having started his career as a supplier at the old ITT before joining what became KPN in 1988, and then moving to the board of Lucent Technologies in 1997 until BT called in 2003. His challenge there was to revive a company that had lost its way: he promoted and hired top talent, mollified the UK regulator by dividing BT into functionally separate units, pushed the all-IP 21CN programme, and drove the operator towards IT services.
At Alcatel-Lucent he needs to complete work on the merger and transform what is now a French company with American managers into a global operation that competes effectively in India, China and other emerging markets. And all without destroying the heritage: he's in charge of Bell Labs, home of the transistor, communications satellites, Unix, DSL and many of the other technologies at the foundations of our age — even the pushbutton phone. But history doesn't pay the bills or win contracts.

Rob Conway
CEO of the GSM Association

Former Motorola executive who will have been running the GSM Association for 10 years next year. In that almost decade he has taken it from being more than a trade association to just about the most powerful institution in telecoms today.
The GSMA now represents more than 700 GSM mobile operator members and 200 manufacturer and supplier associate members across 218 countries of the world, which between them serve over a third of the world's population.
Non-GSM operators are influenced too, by the GSM world's sponsorship of IMS and other technology, at first confined to mobile but now influencing the whole industry; and now non-GSM operators that are heading towards 4G in one form or another will be welcomed into the GSMA.
Under Conway's command the GSMA transformed its annual gathering into the 3GSM World Congress, first in Cannes until it became too big, and then gambled — successfully as it turned out — on a move to Barcelona, with a spin-off in Macau. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is probably the biggest telecoms event in the world.

Ivan Seidenberg
Chairman and CEO of Verizon

One of the few telecoms leaders who knows what it's like to climb a pole and connect a customer: he started out as a cable splicer's assistant 40 years ago. Seidenberg has been the king of mergers, especially around the turn of the century, when the old Bell Atlantic took over Nynex, two of the companies created from the break-up of the Bell System in the mid-1980s. Then Bell Atlantic took over GTE and rebranded as Verizon.
In parallel with all this the mobile assets of Bell Atlantic, GTE and Vodafone Airtouch were formed into Verizon Wireless, leaving Vodafone with a continuing 45% stake.
And then, more recently, Verizon picked up the ruins of Bernard Ebbers's MCI WorldCom, turning it effectively into Verizon Business, the group's wholesale and international business arm. Until then it was largely a US-based operation, with little global presence.
The Vodafone shareholding in Verizon Wireless means Verizon has not been free to develop a completely integrated strategy, though the companies appear closer than they have been for some time. Seidenberg's relationship with the new Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao, will be key

Wang Jianzhou
Chairman of China Mobile
Runs the biggest mobile operator in the world, now heading into its 3G era in China, but one that is poised to invest internationally, beyond its existing control of Pakistan's CMPak, where it has already announced spending of well over $1 billion. China Mobile's technology decisions will be a significant influencer on the rest of the mobile world, because of its scale if nothing else.

René Obermann
Chairman of the management board of Deutsche Telekom
Head of T-Mobile until he moved up to take over the whole company in the wake of the removal of Kai-Uwe Ricke in late 2006. Unlike many in DT, he knows what a competitive market is: he set up ABC Telekom in Münster in the mid-1980s after a BMW training, and went on to run its successor, Hutchison Mobilfunk.
He joined the German incumbent as head of sales for T-Mobile Deutschland in 1998 and then went on to be CEO of the German business, and then ran T-Mobile's operations elsewhere in Europe, including its expanding interests in eastern Europe.
He spent four years as the mobile supremo on the DT management board until he replaced Ricke to become head of Europe's biggest telecoms company. Since then he has brought in new senior colleagues from the mobile side of the group.
Deutsche Telekom is frequently said to be interested in buying other European telcos — it already owns Hungary's Magyar Telekom and now has a managing interest in Greece's OTE, but the names of KPN and even BT have been mentioned, though never with any evidence.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo
CEO of Nokia
Taking over from Jorma Ollila, the man who took Nokia from being a diversified manufacturer in 1992 to the world's largest mobile phone company, was always going to be a challenge, but Kallasvuo has managed to keep the Finnish company in the lead, with a 40% market share for phones. Now he's taking Nokia into online services, including location-based services, and the company is likely to find itself competing even more strongly with Microsoft, Google and Apple.

Ren Zhengfei
Founder and president of Huawei Technologies

In the 20 years since he set up Huawei he has turned the infrastructure world on its ear. Like its fierce Chinese rival ZTE the company has done well in emerging markets, and Huawei is also one of the main suppliers to BT's 21CN project — something that caused some, as Marconi won no 21CN business and disappeared into Ericsson: Huawei felt unable to celebrate its victory at the time, but has since been more confident to take a prominent place alongside traditional western suppliers.

Didier Lombard
CEO of France Telecom Orange

At 66, probably one of the oldest CEOs of a major telco. Lombard began as an engineer in the R&D lab 41 years ago and has worked for most of his life either in the French government or France Telecom — entities that at one stage were hard to untangle.
He became chairman and CEO in 2005 after a couple of years in charge of technologies and strategic partnerships. France Telecom had already bought UK operator Orange, and under Lombard's watch the company has absorbed the Orange brand throughout the company, though perhaps not quite the spirit of the Hans Snook days in the early 1990s. The Orange brand has gradually been adopted for most of its international operations — including Jordan and, most recently, Austria — and is even on the company's shops in the heart of Paris.
His boldest move, though, was the unrequited — so far — wooing of TeliaSonera in early 2008. TeliaSonera sniffed that it wasn't quite enough, though FT Orange never got into negotiations and had only hinted at a price. If it was ever on, they called it off and went to their respective summer houses and Mediterranean beaches. Once they're back, who knows?

Jakob Nielsen
Principal at Nielson Norman Group
Danish-born Nielsen should be as well known as Gordon Moore, the Intel founder who in 1965 formulated the observation that microchips — and hence computers — double in capabilities every 18 months, corresponding to about 60% annual growth.
Nielsen's law of internet bandwidth, formulated in April 1998, says that a high-end user's connection speed grows by 50% a year: his observations of his own net connection, from a 300 bits a second modem in 1984 to an ISDN line 14 years later, showed the rule, which was still accurate when he upgraded to a 16 megabit cable connection in 2008.
The forecast — and there's no reason to think it will not come true, just as Moore's law has held for over four decades — shows that top-end residential connection speeds will be 150 megabits in only four years from now and over 300 megs by 2014. It's a forecast that operators, ISPs, content owners and equipment makers should be feeding into their R&D programmes and capex schedules now.

Masayoshi Son
CEO of Softbank
Bought Vodafone's languishing Japanese operation for $15 billion in 2006 to add to his already successful range of businesses — which include super-fast fixed network operations and internet services. Since then has continued to take the initiative in Japan's highly competitive telecoms market. Son believes that telecoms operators have to be careful not to become dumb pipes, carrying content for others.

Simon Beresford-Wylie
CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks

Nokia man who has run the merged equipment maker since it was created in April 2007 — rather later than first planned, as Nokia delayed the project because of untoward happenings in Siemens. With Siemens continuing to bump along unsteadily — separately from NSN, it is out of the mobile handset business and the office network business — it's a fair bet that the company might revert to being Nokia Networks before long.

Dick Lynch
CTO of Verizon and Verizon Wireless
In a company that had always been in the CDMA camp, Lynch has swung Verizon over to the LTE camp, eventually leading to an end to the era when half of Americans couldn't get their mobiles to work in the big GSM world outside their borders. His decision, and his collaboration with Vodafone — 45% owner of Verizon Wireless — creates a potentially unstoppable momentum for LTE.

Vittorio Colao
CEO of Vodafone

Colao replaced Arun Sarin in mid-2008 after five short years heading the biggest global mobile operator — reinforcing the reputation of the cadre of executives from the former Omnitel in Milan, now Vodafone Italy. He was COO and then CEO of what was Omnitel Pronto Italia. Sarin took Vodafone into emerging markets and started scaling down in developed but highly competitive markets: will Colao continue? And how will he manage the company's at times difficult relationship with Verizon, in whose wireless subsidiary Vodafone owns a 45% stake?

Yin Yimin
President and executive director of ZTE

Yin has been the CEO of ZTE for four years now, though you'd hardly know it. Search for his name on the ZTE website and he's hardly mentioned, except in highly formal reports of board meetings. A report in the Shenzhen Daily from 2005 notes that his predecessor, chairman Hou Weigui, considered the question of succession for five years before making a decision.
But Yin, who is 43, has led ZTE on a dynamic growth path — listing shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange, sealing a partnership deal with France Telecom, opening offices in the US and winning business across the world: most recently a worldwide network equipment deal with Vodafone. That Vodafone deal is particularly important in India, where ZTE is already earning $1 billion in revenues a year.

Ryuji Yamada

Sixty-year-old who has taken control of Japan's formerly unrivalled leader of the mobile world just as it faces challenges from companies such as KDDI and Softbank. He was one of those, 14 years ago, who set NTT on its transition from voice services to a wide range of advanced IP services for the internet age, which continues to underpin the NTT group's long-term vision. But it remains to be seen whether he can reinvigorate DoCoMo.

Steve Ballmer
CEO of Microsoft

You couldn't have a list of the 100 most influential people in the industry without having Steve Ballmer, though it has to be said no reader put forward his name. He was employee number 24 of the company back in 1980, and 20 years later became CEO. Famous throughout the world courtesy of YouTube for bouncing around on stage at a sales conference and declaring: "I have four words for you: 'I love this company.'"
As Microsoft is the dominant provider of PC operating systems and business software, Ballmer could not be other than influential. But at the same time the company is forming strong links with some of the biggest operators in the world, especially over IPTV: AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom and others.
On the mobile side, Apple's iPhone and Google's new Android add to the woes caused by Symbian.

John Chambers
Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems
CEO for the past 13 years makes him a survivor — but his work to grow Cisco from $1 billion sales to $40 billion in that time was rewarded two years ago when he was made chairman as well as CEO.
He said recently that he wants Cisco to be the most influential company in the world in telecoms as well as IT in three to five years. One of its latest of 130 acquisitions — is anyone counting that precisely? — is WebEx, a company bought for $3.2 billion in 2007 to facilitate web-based business meetings, and Cisco is moving into new services under the TelePresence brand, bringing emerging high-definition TV systems into the business world, largely with major telecoms operators.
Meanwhile on a lower scale, Cisco VoIP phones are appearing on desks around the world, and some of them switch automatically to send and receive video when the service is available two-way: the Cisco name, previously hidden in the IT room, is by no means a consumer brand, but it is becoming something that business people — Chambers hopes — will recognise.

Hamid Akhavan
CEO of T-Mobile International and chairman of the Next Generation Mobile Networks alliance, NGMN
US educated engineer brought in by René Obermann to revitalise T-Mobile and, in his spare time, head of the cross-industry group which is — with the GSM Association — pushing the vision of LTE, the long-term evolution to a fourth generation of mobile technology. If that's not enough, he's also responsible for innovation and product development, as well as technology, IT and procurement throughout the Deutsche Telekom group.

Matt Bross
Group CTO of BT

It is clear that he is trying to paint a new vision in BT to take the company in new directions. He is one of the talented group of international technology visionaries brought in by former CEO Ben Verwaayen to shake up the company's operations from end to end: the 21st Century Network project is largely his creation. It's not gone as well as predicted — 21CN implementation is well behind schedule — but the change to a single all-IP network is unquestioned and in that Bross and BT are pioneers. Bross's immediate challenge, though, will be the result of any changes brought about by new CEO Ian Livingston.

Peter Chou

The driving force behind HTC, a company that has helped shape the PDA and smartphone market since it was founded in 1997. He helped at the birth of the first palm-size PDA in 1998 and the first smartphone in 2002. More recently, he has taken HTC from being an OEM to a successful own-brand handset manufacturing company, developing stylish and feature-rich phones for the global market. It is developing the first Android handset, expected to be launched in the second half of 2008.

Saad Al-Barrak
CEO of Zain

Expanded Kuwait's MTC into the Middle East, then bought Celtel in Africa and rebranded the lot as Zain — now one of the most powerful brands in a wide part of the world. His colleagues say he is inspirational: he is certainly dynamic and very ambitious. And fast-talking. Al-Barrak runs what is probably the most diverse telecoms company in the world, employing people of around 100 nationalities, and has won powerful influence: presidents helped celebrate the rebranding and Zain sponsored Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert. Zain is looking for further acquisitions, almost certainly not just in the developing world, and Al-Barrak will become one of the most influential executives in the industry.

Leonid Melamed
CEO of Sistema

Melamed is close to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and to prime minister Vladimir Putin, and runs a company that includes not only some of the country's biggest operators — Comstar-UTS, MTS and MGTS, the Moscow City Telephone Network which serves 3.6 million households — but also high technology suppliers such as Sitronics as well as real estate, retail, finance, media, travel — including the former state-owned travel agency Intourist — and healthcare. The makes him one of the most powerful telecoms executives on the planet.

Wang Xiaochu
CEO of China Telecom

Has the challenge of turning round China Telecom's fixed-line operations — which has been losing 10 million customers a year, equivalent to a BT every two years — and of revitalising the CDMA operations acquired this year from China Unicom. Long-term plan is to move to straight LTE for its 4G technology, unlike China Mobile's likely TD-LTE variant, which would give scale to the world's LTE vendors and users. If he gets it right, that will put him among the leaders: but he has much to do first.

Naguib Sawiris
Chairman and CEO of Orascom Telecom Holding and chairman of Wind Telecomunicazioni

Sawiris took Orascom from its Egyptian base — where it is the largest employer in the private sector — then split it into separate operating companies, including Orascom Telecom Holding, which now runs GSM networks in seven different countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia — including the politically challenging North Korea, where he won a licence in early 2008, and Zimbabwe. He's moved into Europe, where Wind has operations in Italy and Greece, and is now turning his attention to Canada, where it is a partner in Yak Communications' bid for an almost nationwide (Quebec is not covered) mobile licence.

Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

Came late to the internet, with the purchase of MySpace.com in 2005 — the same year his son James authorised British Sky Broadcasting's purchase of European telecoms operator and ISP Easynet. But the IP strategy of the group's many properties — from Fox to the Wall Street Journal in the US to Sky in Europe and Star TV in Asia — will have a significant influence on the telecoms industry.

Nigel Clifford
CEO of Symbian
For Clifford, CEO of Symbian since 2005, the challenge comes in 2009, when the newly formed Symbian Foundation starts operating. Membership is open to all organisations, for a fee of $1,500, and gives royalty-free access to the Symbian Foundation platform. The next target is to make the new platform — formed by unifying the current Symbian with S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) software — to open source within two years.
The Symbian company is now a Nokia subsidiary — it bought out the other founders' shares — but backers of the project include AT&T, France Telecom Orange, KT Freetel, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, ST Microelectronics, Telecom Italia, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

Sunil Bharti Mittal
Chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises, joint MD of Bharti Airtel

Started by making parts for bicycles in the Punjab, moved to telephone equipment in the early 1980s and has since grown one of India's biggest business groups, owning the biggest GSM operator in the country. Not related to the powerful Mittal steel family, but has become a powerful industrialist in his own right.

Matthias Kurth
President of BNetzA

Kurth not only runs the German regulator but from 2009 will chair the European Regulators Group, the body which Viviane Reding wanted to turn into a European über-regulator, but will probably stay as a meeting place for national bodies. Kurth himself has had a few run-ins with Reding, especially over his desire to let Deutsche Telekom insulate its VDSL investments from rivals, so his appointment might diminish the power of the European Commission in telecoms.

Scotts Kriens
CEO of Juniper Networks

Twelve years so far as head of one of the few vendors that is not moving into managed services, instead focussing on high-performance IP technology and promoting cross-industry standards via IPSphere, an organisation now merging with the TM Forum. Juniper has quietly grown to the point at which it now has 10 times the market capitalisation of Nortel, exceeds that of Alcatel-Lucent and is nudging that of Motorola.

Larry Ellison
Co-founder and CEO of Oracle

Yachting enthusiast Ellison founded Oracle in 1977 and its software has been central to the telecoms industry, though often in the background, for many years. Over the past few years, though, it has become more central to the telecoms and media business — especially following the takeover of Siebel in 2005 and Portal and MetaSolv in 2006. The Portal acquisition brought in Bhaskar Gorti, now general manager of the communications global business unit.

Manoj Kohli
CEO and joint MD of Bharti Airtel

Runs India's biggest mobile operator closely overseen by his boss, Sunil Bharti Mittal, who is chairman of the whole Bharti group and joint MD of Bharti Airtel. He's one of those few — mostly in India — who have pioneered ways of running profitable mobile companies on low ARPU by driving down costs of equipment and operations: the effect of those innovations have yet to ripple their way through the high-cost companies in the rest of the world.

Craig McCaw
Chairman of Clearwire

One of the industry's true pioneers — he founded the company that became AT&T Wireless and then founded Nextel — is still a huge influence as founder and chairman of Clearwire, which is merging with Sprint's Xohm WiMax division, with funding from Google and Intel as well as Time Warner and Comcast. There are not many people who still believe in WiMax: if it is to succeed against the onslaught of LTE, McCaw will be instrumental in that success.

Sanjay Jha
CEO of Motorola's mobile services division

The future of one of the best known — but most struggling — brands in the mobile industry is in the hands of this former Qualcomm executive. Motorola revived as a mobile brand with the RAZR but has since lost its way. Will it survive, despite its falling market share? Or is Jha's fate to negotiate a graceful exit and a takeover by another vendor?

Scott McNealy
Founder and chairman of Sun Microsystems

McNealy invented the phrase "the network is the computer" back in 1982, and now he has moved up from his former role as CEO to travels the world meeting with top customers and working to eliminate the digital divide. Earlier this year he made a joint announcement with Terry Matthews of Mitel of a joint thin client desktop for voice and data. It will, he said, allow enterprises to facilitate data centre consolidation, reduce complexity in network management and improve security.

Jeffrey Sachs
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, and adviser to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and was special advisor to previous Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. One of the world's visionaries about the power that mobile communications will have in transforming the lives of ordinary people in poor villages around the world

Kevin Martin
Chairman of the FCC

Bush-Cheney loyalist who has served on the FCC since 2001 and been chairman since March 2005. His future will be determined by the US presidential election in November 2008, five weeks before his 42nd birthday. Telecoms is different in the US from the rest of the world, but the development of AT&T and Verizon into the two giants of the US industry has happened largely under his watch, and their presence is significant throughout the world.

Sanjiv Ahuja
Chairman and CEO of Augere
The former group CEO of Orange, previously president of Telcordia, has a new company with a mission to change the world — to bring broadband internet access to developing countries. Augere is still at an early stage, but Ahuja has gathered a talented team — mainly ex France Telecom Orange — around him. He was in Bangladesh in June 2008 discussing WiMax services with the regulator, only weeks after he was at the ITU's Telecom Africa conference, saying he was aiming at $300 PC with internet access at $10 a month.

Len Waverman
Dean of Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Waverman, former professor of economics at the London Business School, has stirred the industry by showing that mobile telecommunications has a positive benefit for people in developing countries. His research focuses on how communications networks form a key component of the infrastructure crucial to a nation's economic growth, along with roads and electricity. The explosion of mobile telephony across the developing world is shrinking the digital divide, says Waverman, and is providing real opportunity for economic growth in the world's poorest regions.

Rick Simonson
CFO of Nokia
US former mining engineer who has helped to take Nokia to a point in the handset market where the ability to control opex and to manage its supply chain is critical. He is already on at least his third career, having been an investment banker at Bank of America and then Barclays after leaving his initial world. He joined Nokia in 2001 as head of customer finance, negotiating and monitoring financial exposures and was responsible for finding third-party financing solutions for Nokia customers. He joined the board in 2004.

Hamadoun Touré
Secretary-general of the ITU

First sub-Saharan African to lead the International Telecommunication Union, he has driven it to have a far greater role in promoting telecoms to benefit developing countries, though he hasn't yet been able to reduce ITU meetings' love of vast protocols, memoranda and statements of position. Main aim is to bring forward the UN's Millennium Development Goals from 2015 to 2012.

Michael Joseph
CEO of Safaricom

Many have forecast that the mobile phone will become a mobile wallet, but Michael Joseph is one of the few to have put the forecast into practice, with the M-Pesa service in Kenya. It's been successful there, delivering about €1 million a day, and the technology is now being offered by other operators in the Middle East and Africa.

Robert Topfer
Executive chairman of Babcock & Brown Capital Management

Babcock & Brown controls Irish operator Eircom and Topfer is a long-standing advocate of structural separation. He is said to have calculated that €123 billion of value would be released in Europe alone if structural solutions were implemented. Eircom was seen as something of a testbed for ideas that Babcock has been canvassing around the market for years, but now it is believed to be reviewing its relationship with the company.

Stephen Conroy
Australian government minister for broadband

Less than a year after coming to power in the December 2007 election, is emerging as a fan of structural separation, following examples from the UK and New Zealand. Still only a trickle, not a trend, but Conroy could add energy to the current.

Martin Varsavsky
Founder and CEO of Fon Wireless

Serial founder of companies — Viatel and Jazztel are among his creations — who set up Fon as a way of trying to get some sense into the wifi hotspot business. He realised that most people use only a proportion of their residential wifi capacity, and could be persuaded to offer it securely to passers-by in exchange for access to public hotspots. He's persuaded BT, Comstar and Neuf Cegetel of his arguments, but 3G broadband wireless might overtake him — though his ideas could equally apply to residential femtocells.

Paul Berriman

Runs the technology for one of the most advanced operators in Hong Kong's fiercely competitive marketplace, offering TV, gaming, gambling and other services across fixed and mobile terminals — with an eye to making it simple.

Keith Willetts
Chairman of the TM Forum

Go to one of the TM Forum's conferences and it's easy to become bemused by the engineers talking about eTOM, SID, TAM, Prosspero and other aspects of OSS and BSS. But Willetts has the vision that efficient operators are those with good IT — just as efficient airlines, booksellers and supermarkets are those with good IT — and they need to work together on common frameworks for the services of the future.

Chang Xiaobing
CEO of China Unicom
Shorn of its CDMA operations but with the addition of fixed-line China Netcom to its own GSM business, China Unicom will be the smallest of China's three new giants in terms of revenue. Netcom dominated in the less prosperous north-east, so Chang has to work with two low-cost operations: Unicom pitched itself as a cheaper GSM option than China Mobile, but won less than a third of the subscribers.

Mark Greenquist
CEO of Telcordia

Telcordia is one of the many offshoots of the pre-1984 Bell System, now owned by private equity after a spell as a subsidiary of a Pentagon-oriented technology consultancy. Greenquist has expanded its international perspective — particularly in the area of number portability — and increased its activities in the mobile world. Will its owners hold it, or find a new parent? That must be one of the issues on Greenquist's agenda.

Ian Livingston
Took over in July 2008 from Ben Verwaayen after a successful spell heading BT Retail. His spell in office will see crucial decisions about how BT will follow up existing separation of powers — maybe the long discussed separation into an infrastructure company and a number of service companies? One of his concerns must be that, nearly a decade after it lost its mobile business — now Telefónica's O2 — it is small in relation to the three European giants, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Telefónica itself. BT's been seen as an acquisition target in the past: that might make sense for Livingston, at least for elements of the company.

Nan Chen
President of the Metro Ethernet Forum

Bob Metcalfe's ethernet was conceived as a way of linking office systems together: going into the internet and other long-distance services was more complex. Chen believes that ethernet technology will be used from building to building, street to street, city to city and country to country. The industry is listening to him and, gradually, adopting his ideas.

Terry Matthews
Chairman of Wesley Clover

The most famous Welshman, or the most famous Ontarian, depending on whose account you read. Matthews is a former BT apprentice who formed Mitel in Canada — then working with business partner Michael Cowpland. They sold that to BT and he went on to found Newbridge Networks, which Alcatel bought. Since then has funded Newport Networks, March Networks and many other businesses, and has regained control of Mitel. A golf fanatic who has been looking forward for years to 2010, when he hosts the Ryder Cup at his Celtic Manor Resort in south Wales. Don't plan on pitching any projects to him in September 2010.

Steve Pusey
Global CTO of Vodafone Group
Responsible for all aspects of Vodafone's networks, IT capability and supply chain management, since joining in 2006 after 20-odd years in Nortel. Brings wireline experience, as well as wireless, to what was a resolutely mobile company. Working together with Verizon CTO Dick Lynch on a shared LTE programme.

Boris Nemsic
CEO of Telekom Austria

Born 51 years ago in Sarajevo, in what was then Yugoslavia, Nemsic took a doctorate in Vienna, then joined Telekom Austria's mobile group in 1997 and since then has steered it into an expansion over much of the former territories of the old Austro-Hungarian empire — the empire whose demise started in Sarajevo in 1914. Since he became CEO of the whole group in 2006 he has continued to create a surprisingly prominent image for its size — perhaps indicating further long-term expansion plans, or at least a desire to be noticed in the world's financial markets.

Matt Desch
CEO of Iridium
The executive — formerly Telcordia; before that Nortel — who has the chance of finally turning round Iridium, one of the best examples of 1990s outlandish spending. His challenge over the next four or five years is to raise the money to replace that original fleet of satellites and to build a lasting business plan.

Mike Zafirovski
CEO of Nortel

Influential in that he is seeking a long-term solution for a company that has been drifting and, apparently, sinking for years — market capitalisation is now down to around $1.5 billion. Current options seem to be to sell off chunks — such as the metro ethernet business, most recently — to pay the rent. Ultimately, who knows? But Zafirovski probably doesn't have long to find a solution for one of the best known names in the business.

Viviane Reding
European Commissioner for media and telecoms

If we had done this Top 100 a year ago Reding's position would have been distinctly higher. In late 2007 she put forward her plan to set up a single Telecom Market Authority as an overall regulator of regulators for the 27 nations in the European Union. But though she won the backing of fellow commissioners and of the directly elected European Parliament regulators and national governments have not been over-enthusiastic about ceding power to a Brussels über-regulator.
She has had a result in capping intra-EU roaming charges for mobile calls, welcomed by business and leisure travellers and resisted by operators.
But the life of president José Manuel Barroso's commission expires in 2009, so her chance of achieving the Telecom Market Authority have faded. 

Pekka Ala-Pietilä
CEO and co-founder of Blyk

Ad-funded MVNO for 16-24-year-olds in UK and Netherlands. He says: "Success in the UK has proven that Blyk is a youth media that works and we hope to replicate this as we enter new countries. Reached 100,000 users six months ahead of target.

Bob Metcalfe
Inventor of ethernet and now general partner of Polaris Venture Partners

More than 35 years since Metcalfe proposed the principles of ethernet networks — in a memo circulated round Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center on May 22 1973 — he continues to be influential in early-stage investor Polaris.
But his Metcalfe's law, first named in 1993, should be on every telecoms executive's office wall: the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of users of the system. Alexander Graham Bell probably applied it unconsciously to telephones and Almon Strowger to automatic exchanges but more recently we have seen it demonstrated in fax machines, mobile phones, SMS capability, email accounts, digital cameras and Facebook.

Ricky Wong
Chairman of City Telecom and Hong Kong Broadband Network

Just as IBM once calculated, allegedly, that there was a world market for no more than six computers, and Bill Gates apparently said 128k was enough RAM for anyone, so people find it hard to think what anyone will do with 10 megabits a second. Don't come to Wong's City Telecom, then: 10 megabits is so trivial a speed that it is no longer offered. You can get 100 megs and above. He's running the network of the future: see and admire.

Vinod Kumar
President of global data and mobility solutions for Tata Communications

Though Srinath Narasimhan is the CEO, Kumar is the Tata executive that other telecoms operators — Tata's communications customers — are more likely to meet. He runs the 300 points of presence worldwide, enabling the company to offer a global content delivery service on a single global IP network throughout Europe, Asia, North America and India.
Kumar is also responsible for the wholesale data, global mobile and international enterprise lines of business.

Dan Hesse
CEO of Sprint

Sprint desperately needs turning round: Hesse has agreed to shed the about-to-be-born WiMax business, Xohm, to a joint venture with Clearwire. The rest of the operation has a mixture of CDMA mobile, the incompatible iDen mobile — a standard developed by Motorola — and wholesale and corporate services. Mobile connections are falling and Sprint has to make urgent decisions about the technical future, in a country where the biggest CDMA operator, Verizon Wireless, is planning to move to the GSM world's LTE camp. Something needs to happen.

Ad Scheepbouwer

Leading KPN's radical moves into all-IP network operation, but appeared last year to have decided finally to drop moves to merge with neighbour Belgacom. That might leave both as targets for others.

Arun Sarin
Former CEO of Vodafone

Despite aggressive shareholder action from time to time, Sarin managed to keep Vodafone together, retain its important stake in Verizon Wireless and expand into the fast growing Indian market, all while balancing the LTE versus WiMax camps. Now he's handed over to Vittorio Colao and at 54 in October is no doubt considering his next opportunity.

Karsten Lereuth
President of global telecom markets at BT Global Services

If BT is to become a international force in the telecoms market then Lereuth is one of those who will influence it. His task is to sell BT's skills in IP transformation to other operators. His trouble is that few customers let him tell of the relationship: Bahrain's NueTel is one of the few.

Carlos Slim Helú
Honorary life chairman of Telmex and América Móvil
The richest man in the world, or the second richest, behind Warren Buffet but ahead of Bill Gates of Microsoft, depending who's counting and when. Slim entered the telecoms industry in 1990 when he led a group of investors, including France Telecom and SBC of the US, to buy Telmex from the Mexican government. Today Telmex runs 90% of Mexican fixed lines.
His mobile business, América Móvil, has invested heavily across Latin America and now has more than 100 million subscribers, competing against operators such as Spain's Telefónica and Telecom Italia.

Eli Katz
CEO of XConnect

Katz has a bold idea, to allow VoIP providers to interconnect their services without going through the local traditional operators on a peer-to-peer arrangement, comparable with that used by internet companies. Ultimately he believes that operators will follow the internet's example and abandon the complex processes needed to charge for calls at each interconnection and adopt a bill-and-keep plan. But the industry is conservative, and that may be too bold a move for them.

Andy Lees
Senior vice president at Microsoft

The new leader of the mobile division tasked with addressing the services, software and device market as Microsoft pushes further into mobile. Has a track record of leadership in the server business which means that the market should watch closely.

Martin Sorrel
Chief executive of the WPP Group

Advertising man with contracts with Vodafone and Russia's MTS — and one of the clearest views of the potential importance of convergence

Charles Dunstone
Chairman of Carphone Warehouse
Praised for vision and courage to reinvent his business as a leading UK telco, competing with BT and a constant thorn in the flesh of its local loop operator Openreach

Ron Spears
President of AT&T Global Business Services
Spears runs AT&T's enterprise and wholesale business and drives the future global direction for AT&T. A 30-year veteran of the telecoms industry after eight years as a US Army officer, Spears has been responsible for leading the company's sales, marketing and customer care operations for enterprise and wholesale customers worldwide since April 2007.

John Pluthero
CEO of Cable & Wireless

Took over Energis when it was put into administration in July 2002 and revived it so that, when Cable & Wireless bought it three years later, it was Pluthero who ran the combined operation. A further three years on Cable & Wireless remains UK-based competitor to BT plus a collection of small incumbents threatened by liberalisation around the world. The two have an uneasy, and contradictory, relationship but Pluthero has not yet found a long-term solution.

Ohad Finkelstein
Partner in Venrock Partners
Former CEO of Interoute, and said to have an excellent record of innovation supporting the identification, funding management and eventual float of numerous companies around the world including p-Cube — deep packet inspection — and Interoute itself. XConnect is one of Venrock's investments, and Finkelstein chairs its board.

Steve Robertson
CEO of Openreach

Robertson has carved Openreach out of BT Wholesale and led its staff — most of whom have been with BT since they started — to reposition themselves as the equal access installers who connect services for Colt, Cable & Wireless, Tiscali or any of the other competitive operators in the UK

John Donovan

Think IPTV, three-screen strategies, iPhone for enterprise and first operator to launch it, video sharing on 3G and defining the combined IP-based communications infrastructure for end users. Donovan took over as CTO of the largest operator in early 2008 with a brief to oversee its global innovation and technology and to accelerate the evolution of wireline and wireless networks and deliver converged services. Donovan was something of an unexpected appointment, having been recruited from Verisign where he was executive VP of marketing, sales and operations.

Paul Reynolds
CEO of Telecom New Zealand

Reynolds was one of those who pioneered all-IP transition and functional separation when he was CEO of BT Wholesale in the UK: part of his operation was hived off, though still under BT ownership, to create Openreach as the equal-access local loop operator.
Now he's on his first appointment as the overall CEO of a public telecoms operator, having moved to New Zealand in September 2007. His ride has been bumpy — shareholders haven't always seen the logic of his strategy — but he's learned from his BT experience in formulating plans to go IP: the plain old analogue service will not be replaced, as BT planned to, but will be left to expire of its own accord. But Chorus is his Openreach mark two, and the model is being watched worldwide.

Stefano Parisi
CEO of Fastweb

Parisi is a politician, civil servant, academic and industrialist who has run Fastweb, Italy's broadband operator and key competitor to Telecom Italia, since 2004. Swisscom bought an 82% stake in 2007 but Parisi continues to run Fastweb as an independent, and separately quoted, entity.

Chris Gabriel
Chief Executive of Zain's African business
Took over as CEO of Zain's African businesses in December 2007. As such, he's a direct successor of the inspirational Mohamed Ibrahim, the founder of Celtel, but now the African business is just part of Saad Al-Barrak's ambition for a wider Zain empire. Meanwhile Gabriel, a former executive with Singtel and Cable & Wireless, is managing company-wide initiatives such as the One Network scheme as well as projects to run ultra-low-cost networks in rural areas.

Peter Gbedemah
CEO of Gateway Communications

Gateway is a satellite services firm which provides wholesale connectivity to operators within Africa and between them and the rest of the world, with customers in 40 countries.
Gbedemah helped to set up Gateway after working for Citibank, BT and other companies, along with investment banker Julian McIntyre
In January a subsidiary raised $60 million to accelerate the roll out of its pan African pay-TV service, GTV, and in August South African mobile operator Vodacom agreed to buy most of Gateway's business for $675 million, a deal which excludes the broadcasting business.
Unclear yet how this affects Gbedemah — but he's likely to remain as a significant influence in African communications.

Lars Nyberg
CEO of TeliaSonera
He'd barely been CEO for a year — having taken over from Anders Igel in mid-2007 — when France Telecom Orange started sniffing around TeliaSonera, which is the dominant player in Sweden and Finland and has interests in Turkey and former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Kazakhstan.
FT Orange sniffed and went away again, when TeliaSonera shareholders and the board said that the price — which was never more than indicative, as no one ever made a formal bid, wasn't enough. But the margin wasn't very wide, and FT Orange might come back — or leave someone else to step in.

Lars Stork
COO of Zain Nigeria
Already a successful executive with more than 30 years international experience, he came out of retirement at the request of Celtel founder Mo Ibrahim to "give something back", in his own words. He has worked tirelessly at Celtel — now Zain — in Nigeria to bring mobile telecommunications to the country's poor, and his Rural Acquisition Initiative is now being expanded across Zain's other African operating companies.

Carl Icahn
Investor and director of Yahoo!

Has a reputation as a corporate raider, with interests in Motorola, Yahoo! and other companies. To some extent, the industry has moved on: both Motorola and Yahoo! were central to telecoms and the internet in their day, but they've lost the edge.

Sean Maloney
Executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Intel

Londoner who is one of four executive vice presidents reporting to the CEO, Paul Otellini, and has been tipped as a likely candidate to replace him.
Maloney has been a main supporter of Intel's promotion of WiMax technology. Some, though, see a cooling of the company's WiMax fever — or, rather, a moderation of its enthusiasm and a preference to say that WiMax is a subset of the emerging new 4G group of standards.
But now he has wider concerns, though Intel's support of mobile computing — which started with the Centrino wifi chip and will develop through either WiMax or LTE or both — will undoubtedly continue.

Michael Anderson
President of Telcordia's global solutions group

Taking Telcordia into service management and service fulfilment, following a career as an IP pioneer with companies such as AT&T and MCI as well as a voice and data provider that was acquired by Time Warner.

Greg Brown
President and co-CEO of Motorola, and CEO of its broadband mobility unit

Shares with Sanjay Jha the role of finding salvation for Motorola as two separate entities. Brown's business includes home and networks mobility and enterprise mobility solutions businesses, leaving Jha with mobile phones.
He has headed four different businesses at Motorola including the government and public safety business, and he led the $3.9 billion acquisition of Symbol Technologies, the second largest transaction in Motorola's history.
Before joining Motorola, he was chairman and CEO of Micromuse, a network management software company which became part of IBM in 2005. If only he could find a home like IBM for Motorola.

Sebastiano Tevarotto
VP and general manager for communications, media and entertainment at HP

Responsible for managing a wide range of technologies, from systems for equipment companies to services for content providers. An electronic engineer from the University of Padua, he has spent much of his career in HP.

Håkan Eriksson
CTO of Ericsson

The top engineer at one of the world's biggest telecoms equipment makers — as big as, say, Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola put together — has been CTO for nearly five years. He's been responsible for developments in the core network, the radio network and the service network as well as applications: an all-round engineer who's at the top of technology. His name is easy to remember, too.

Barry West
President of Xohm at Sprint
Mobile pioneer at BT who joined Craig McCaw when BT was its early partner, and has been a strong advocate of WiMax at Sprint. Now he'll be working with McCaw again, as Xohm is due to merge with McCaw's WiMax operation Clearwire. It's still early days for mobile WiMax: it West has got his sums right, it will have a head start over LTE.
West, who is also CTO of Sprint Nextel, has worked with chipmakers, device manufacturers, regulators and carriers with the intent of manufacturing efficiency, economies of scale, interoperability and roaming. Sprint is launching the Xohm service in Baltimore in September, plus Chicago and Washington DC later in the year.

Frank Mount
Group chief transformation officer, Telecom New Zealand

Industry veteran of AT&T and MCI who was group CTO at Cable & Wireless until moving to New Zealand to manage Paul Reynolds' transformation (see xxx)

Ashley Highfield
Former director of future media at the BBC

A visionary of internet delivery of TV and radio at the BBC, Highfield was picked in April 2008 to run Kangaroo, a project run by the BBC and two commercially funded UK TV groups, ITV and Channel 4, to deliver TV over the net — though the regulators are looking at the competitive aspects of such collaboration. The existing BBC iPlayer, from Highfield's previous domain, is already causing concerns to ISPs in the UK about the volume of revenue-free traffic.

Edward Mueller
Chairman and CEO of Qwest
Qwest is the last of the seven Baby Bells, the local companies set up when the Bell System was broken up in the 1980s — though Qwest was a long-distance company founded by Philip Anschutz which bought the real Baby Bell, US West, in 2000. Richard Notebaert took over in 2002 — his predecessor having been ousted and later charged with fraud — and Mueller took over in 2007. Notebaert having stabilised the company, Mueller has to decide what to do next: Qwest has probably missed the opportunity to be absorbed into AT&T or Verizon.

Richard Branson
Chairman of the Virgin Group

Exponent of brand equity who backed the first successful MVNO, Virgin Mobile in the UK. Has taken Virgin Mobile into a number of other countries, including the US, where mobiles were previously a tool for 40-year-old business people, not a device for 20-year-old students, and expanded the UK original into a quadruple play venture, Virgin Media.

Niklas Zennström
Founder of Skype and co-owner of Joost

Since Zennström and behind-the-scenes partner Janus Friis, who'd earlier created the questionable file-sharing system KaZaA, sold Skype to eBay for a ludicrous $2.5 billion in 2006 the world has been waiting for their next move. Video system Joost says it has 35,000 shows online, but few people know anyone who's spent an evening watching. But, then, Skype has 300 million accounts, but the average use is still only around 50 minutes per quarter each.