Business News – TRA Ascends to Broadened Purpose

Posted: 07/2000

Business News

TRA Ascends to Broadened Purpose

After eight years driving the resellers’ cause under the TRA banner, the Telecommunications Resellers Association is shifting gears like a semi traveling uphill with an increasing and diverse payload. But there’s no gear grinding with this ascent; it’s been a predictable journey that has paralleled that of the competitive telecommunications industry.

There was a little horn blowing when the group unveiled its new name, the Association of Communications Enterprises (ASCENT,, at its spring conference, May 8-11, in Philadelphia.

New services provided by the association’s members, specifically high-speed data services, IP telephony,
DSL, web hosting and e-commerce, prompted TRA to change its name to embrace all of its current and future members.

“The Association of Communications Enterprises better describes our membership and reflects the dynamic characteristics of our industry,” says ASCENT president Ernest B. Kelly III. “We also want to make clear that the new name underscores our commitment to advance the business interests of an increasingly diverse membership.”

1. TRA unveils new ASCENT name and logo.

ASCENT, he says, plans to focus its attention squarely on the advanced services imperative, including a beefed up lobbying effort and member education plan.

ASCENT made good on this last point at its spring conference with sessions covering business opportunities in wireless data, voice over DSL, next-generation networks, line sharing and more.

2. Outgoing TRA Chairman J.Sherman Henderson, Stuart Conrad, Dave

More than 2,500 attendees made their way to and through the trade show floor, which featured 200 exhibitors–the most ever at this event. Among the vendors’ wares were all things Internet, such as online billing
solutions from Inc. ( and web-based customer network management from Sprint Wholesale
( Even the show’s entertainment, singer Michael McDonald, was
"net-ified." In an advance interview before his concert, sponsored by Williams Communications
( and Nortel Networks Corp.
(, the former lead singer for the Doobie Brothers said he looks forward to launching his music into cyberspace. Rather than burn CDs, he plans to have his music available to be downloaded from a website.

Former FCC Chief Reed Hundt also shared in a keynote address his take on the broadband revolution, but from a policymaker’s point of view. During his term, Hundt headed up six FCC-regulated lanes of
Vice President Al Gore’s “Information Superhighway,” including broadcast, cable, satellite, telephony, wire and wireless communications. He reportedly was the first FCC chairman to put a PC with an Internet connection on his desk.

“There will be an explosion of offering and a major increase within four years, making broadband the prime method of communications for 40 percent of American households,” he said in an advance interview.

Media icon Walter Cronkite said in his keynote address that the implication of faster and better technology will be improved communications, and communications, he says, will be a major aid to civilizing the world.

ASCENT Elects Board of Directors

ASCENT elected three new members to its board of directors in a vote held during the annual membership meeting at its spring conference.

ASCENT is governed by a nine-member board with staggered three-year terms. Each year, three board seats come up for election. This year the membership selected the following
individuals to fill those seats: Ron Contrado, president, chairman and founder of
Homisco/VoiceNet (; Gordon Martin, president of carrier services for Williams Communications Group Inc.
(; and Anthony T.
Sgroi, senior vice president of North American Sales for Global Crossing Ltd. (

The new directors join the other board members: J. Sherman Henderson III, president and CEO of Lightyear Communications Inc.
(; Laura Scher, chairman and CEO of Working Assets Funding Service
(; Robert T. Hale Sr., chairman of Network Plus Inc.
(; Ron Harden, COO of PointOne Telecommunications Inc.
(; Gail Jones, vice president and general
manager of ViaServices Group Inc. (; and Daniel G.
Lazarek, CFO/COO of Access General Inc.

The board of directors selected long-time director Scher as chair of the board; she succeeds Henderson in this post. In addition, Harden was named vice chair, and Hale was appointed treasurer.

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