James Dwyer Jr., who was instrumental in launching the cellular telecommunications industry worldwide, died Friday night at his home in Fort Myers, Fla., after an extended illness. Dwyer was 73.
One of the founding fathers of the cellular business worldwide, Mr. Dwyer was a lawyer and salesman best known for starting early cellular systems in several top U.S. markets and working with colleagues and competitors to build a strong base for the young industry. American Cellular Telephone Corp., the system he launched in Indianapolis in 1984, was the third cellular system in the country and the first built from the ground up for commercial service.
Dwyer and his allies successfully convinced the FCC to allow independent paging operators and radio common carriers (RCCs) to build public cellular networks and compete with the monopoly wireline telephone company. At the time, many of these businesses were family-run operations licensed by the commission to provide private paging, answering, and early car telephone services. The decision unleashed a historic wave of investment and competition in wireless telecommunications. Dwyers efforts were instrumental in creating todays competitive wireless environment.
The entire wireless industry is saddened by the loss of Jim Dwyer,” said Dennis Strigl, retired president and COO of Verizon Communications and former president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. I cant think of an individual with a higher degree of integrity. Jim was a genuine, down-to-earth individual who kept growing businesses, and one of his strongest contributions was the honesty he brought to the business world. The people who worked for him and with him loved the man.”
Dwyer was a founding member of CTIA-The Wireless Association and crucial to its success. He led the association through Congressional revision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first major overhaul of U.S. telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, which resulted in strong policy positions for wireless services. In 2000 he received the CTIA Presidents Award for outstanding contributions to the industry.
Dwyers telecom career began in 1958, when he took an entry-level position at the New York offices of Radio Engineering Labs Inc., a company based on FM technology that Maj. Edwin Howard Armstrong introduced to the world in 1935.