By Bob Titsch, Jr. and Khali Henderson
It’s that time of year again, dear readers, when we suck up to our friends and pay
little or no notice to those who don’t appreciate how singularly important we at PHONE+
But seriously, folks, as you may recall, last year we based this segment on the past
and present actions of influential individuals in the competitive long distance industry,
which we define as the business segment thriving off of wholesale long-haul services. This
year’s List is different in that it includes a healthy dose of speculation about certain
individuals and their potential influence on the competitive long distance industry over
the next 12 months.
However, contrary to popular opinion, we in fact do not have a crystal ball. Some of
our prognostications may not be wholly accurate. But hey, we’re the media. We have the
right to be wrong.
So enjoy your look into the future, and woe to those of you who are not part of it.
IVAN SEIDENBERG AND EDWARD WHITACRE
Chairman designate, Bell Atlantic Corp., and CEO, and SBC Communications Corp.
STATUS: BOCZILLA is on the loose, and it’s not taking prisoners. If Bell
Atlantic-New York (BANY) passes the New York Public Service Commission’s operations
support system (OSS) test–and we’re predicting it will before year’s end–one-half of
BOCZILLA, Seidenberg, will head the first Bell operating company (BOC) to obtain long
distance authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1999. We’re
projecting that Bell Atlantic will start offering long distance service in New York in the
second quarter of next year, with Pennsylvania and possibly one other state not far
behind. Couple that with Bell Atlantic’s pending acquisition of GTE, and BOCZILLA could
have 5 million long distance customers by this time next year. (Remember that GTE has
signed up 2 million customers since the Telecommunica-tions Act of 1996 was passed).
Seidenberg and the other half of the two-headed beast, SBC Communications’ Whitacre
also could have a monstrous impact on the competitive long distance market in 1999 if they
are successful in getting the courts to agree that the Telecom Act’s interLATA
restrictions on Bell companies are unconstitutional. Whitacre, who has accused the long
distance companies of stalling entry into local markets to prevent SBC’s entry into long
distance markets, has done more than anyone to stonewall local service competition,
including its attempts to reconstitute the Bell system. With the merger with Pacific Bell,
acquisition of Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. acquisition and pending
takeover of Ameritech Corp., the company would have control over local service in 12
states plus plans to service 30 markets outside of its service territory. If and when SBC
(with Ameritech) is allowed to offer long distance services, it would have some 180
million customers to tap.
Together, BOCZILLA is outflanking AT&T Corp., but its tail will swing mightily
through the competitive long distance business, also. The good news for the competitive
set: Segments of the creature’s customer base will continue to be underserved, leaving
plenty of opportunity for more nimble competitors.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Whitacre was recently named president of the
Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Seidenberg reportedly flunked out of college and went to work
for New York Telephone as a splicer in 1966 because it was one of only two companies in
Manhattan that would hire draftable men. Although he ended up in Vietnam, when he came
back he earned his master’s degree in business administration at night school.
BERNARD J. EBBERS
MONIKER: President and CEO, MCI WorldCom Inc.
STATUS: The barracuda has swallowed the whale.
The breadth of MCI WorldCom’s network, infrastructure, back-office, product sets and
resources (both human and capital) is staggering. Mr. Ebbers’ troops are scattered
throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and Latin America, tearing up streets, laying fiber
and installing facilities. In fact, MCI WorldCom is well on its way to becoming the first
network provider with global point-of-origination-to-point-of-destination capabilities.
The company’s U.S.-based wholesale customers will have access to those capabilities, too.
The Department of Justice inquiry, the GTE Corp. lawsuit and other nuisances restrained
MCI WorldCom from doing much of the due diligence that comes with merger planning before
an acquisition closes, so the new entity will be busy integrating infrastructure and
positioning personnel for months. People working in the company’s wholesale group, for
example, are still getting to know each other. When the wholesale team’s structure comes
together in the next few weeks (at present, temporary account managers have been assigned
to every customer), it will have a tremendous impact on the competitive long distance
After all, MCI WorldCom’s wholesale services business alone would be a Fortune 200
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Wedding bells are ringing. Citizens of Jackson,
Miss., are talking about a woman driving around in a new Mercedes Benz with the plates
President and CEO, Level 3 Communications Inc.
STATUS: Braveheart’s about to take some land back.
Level 3 is building a nationwide Internet protocol (IP) technology-based network that
is expected to be completed in phases by 2001. The company plans to build local networks
in cities across the country and to interconnect these city networks with its long-haul
network, which would make it the first national telecommunications company to use IP
Until then, the company will utilize leased fiber from Frontier Corp. to serve
customers with high-speed voice and data needs. And, we’re speculating, it either will
acquire a large network provider or enter a joint venture to expedite its entry into the
business. Some insiders say Mr. Crowe will have to buy a network that’s in place or Level
3’s stock will get whacked next year.
One problem though: Mr. Crowe’s avowed, stated and publicly paraded technology of the
future is largely incompatible with the technology of other network providers. A joint
venture of some kind that allows Level 3 to utilize another interexchange carrier’s
(IXC’s) network and regional Bell operating company (RBOC) contracts to accelerate its
build and generate some revenue seems more plausible.
Mr. Crowe needs to turn up facilities sooner rather than later, or he’ll be coming from
behind as the industry approaches near-zero pricing for long-haul capacity. We’re
predicting a bold move in 1999, one that will impact the competitive long distance
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Crowe has been courting Williams for a joint
venture, but Williams doesn’t want to help an eventual competitor expedite his network
MONIKER: President and CEO, Qwest Communications International Inc.
STATUS: There’s innovation in theory and innovation in reality, which is Joe
The agreements he reached with US WEST Inc. and Ameritech Corp. that allowed them to
market Qwest’s long distance service in packages along with their respective local
exchange services was innovation in reality. But lawmakers made it a dream when they put a
halt to the alliances in early October.
Still integrating its operations with those of acquisition LCI International Inc., it
won’t be long before Qwest is delivering the seamless integrated network and back-office
that carrier customers expect, but one has to question whether it matters. The company’s
aggressive pricing tactics continue to lure wholesale business away from competitors,
regardless of back-office performance. In fact, much of the downward pricing pressure in
the industry today can be attributed to this rising star.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: The fellow who led the AT&T task force
against long distance resale, Mr. Nacchio is expected to buy a few more resellers next
and CEO, Sprint Corp.
STATUS: The risk-taker has bet the bank on the Integrated On-Demand Network
(ION), like he did on fiber and the deployment of code division multiple access (CDMA) by
Given Mr. Esrey’s track record, Sprint’s conversion to a fully integrated,
packet-switched network based on an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) backbone will be a
successful one. ION will provide customers–and eventually wholesale customers–with
bandwidth as they demand it. A variety of protocols, including Internet protocol (IP),
will run over the network. According to sources at Sprint, its fiber optic long distance
network will be extended through metropolitan broadband networks available in 36 major
markets in 1999, allowing Sprint ION to pass 70 percent of large businesses without having
to use digital subscriber line (DSL) technology.
If everything goes as planned, Sprint’s operational costs will drop substantially next
year, providing even more fuel to a growing wholesale program that includes a unique
virtual private network (VPN) product that gives resellers a software-based VPN without
the operational hassles of a dedicated private network.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Taking business and recreation to the limit, this
Harvard grad is an extreme skier.
MONIKER: Chairman and CEO, IXC Communications Inc.
STATUS: This psychology major has made a science out of joint ventures and
Last year, IXC made a run on long distance companies. This year it’s gobbling up
Internet service providers (ISPs) (ntr.net, The Date Place, SMARTNAP and a 34 percent
stake in AppliedTheory Communications Inc.) and moving to a more data-centric platform.
Wholesale customers can utilize that platform through a recently introduced suite of
Internet wholesale products, including dial-up services with access to more than 750
dial-up points of presence (POPs) in more than 500 cities nationwide, and dedicated
services in the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).
Moreover, IXC just added 1,880 miles to its nationwide fiber optic network by
completing a segment stretching between New York, Washington, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas,
giving the competitive long distance community additional bandwidth in the heavily
trafficked New York-to-Washington corridor.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: He’s a fearless snow skier who will attack the
steepest of black diamond runs, however inelegant. Living in Austin now, he’s obsessed
with liquid H2O, spending evenings at the helm of his new boat.
President and CEO, Williams Communications
STATUS: That Williams network is at it again, but with added horsepower.
The soft-spoken, unassuming Mr. Janzen has Williams on track to not just replicate but
improve on the carrier’s carrier model it advanced in the late 1980s under the brand name
In 1995, The Williams Companies sold all but one strand of WilTel’s 11,000-mile fiber
optic network to LDDS Communications (now WorldCom Inc.). When its noncompete clause
expired in January, Williams charged into the capacity race like a thoroughbred, laying
fiber, swapping fiber with other long-haul carriers and building a state-of-the-art
asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) backbone that will pass virtually any kind of traffic. By
the end of this year, Williams’ fiber optic network will span nearly 20,000 miles. By the
end of next year, the company will be passing all of its services, including voice, over
one ATM platform, and chewing up market share.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Janzen’s size-15 foot punishes the
accelerator of a black BMW that parts traffic on the Broken Arrow Expressway like Moses
did the Red Sea.
MONIKER: President and CEO, Frontier Corp.
STATUS: Mr. Clayton has cleaned house, structured and streamlined operations,
and charged Frontier’s wholesale team with showing him the money. And it is. Frontier’s
wholesale business is growing dramatically. (See story on page 94.)
In 1999, Frontier plans to roll out what Mr. Clayton calls "liquid
bandwidth," which will allow customers to provision bandwidth from the carrier’s
Optronics Network as needed from any web browser. A new local resale product and a virtual
private network (VPN) resale product also are on the fast track.
The former consumer electronics honcho has the folks at Frontier fired up, focused and
turning a company that many long distance resellers used to criticize as having a stodgy,
"you want a $250 credit you have to wait four months because 30 people have to sign
off on it" telco mentality into an aggressive, wholesale-friendly integrated
communications provider (ICP).
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: At Frontier’s annual wholesale customer event in
June, Mr. Clayton was scheduled to camp out at a par 3 with $250 gift certificates for any
customer who could beat him in a closest-to-the-pin contest. If just one customer beat
him, all four players would win a certificate. The night before the event, he doubled the
stakes to $500 a player. After staying up most of the night playing pool, he still beat 13
out of 14 foursomes.
C. MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
MONIKER: Chairman and CEO, AT&T Corp.
STATUS: Making change at a company the size of AT&T is like trying to steer
the Titanic away from an iceberg. But in his first year at the helm of the nation’s
largest long distance company, Mr. Armstrong has managed to set a new course for the
communications giant albeit with fewer crew members (18,000 jobs are to be cut by next
year) and fewer anchors (two business units were sold in the first 100 days). Acquisitions
of TCI and TCG are expected to shore up the company’s bundled service offering in consumer
and business markets, respectively. Likewise, AT&T’s joint venture with British
Telecom (BT) is expected to propel its hotly criticized international strategy.
Mr. Armstrong, a.k.a. Chainsaw Al, has only managed to grow revenues 1 percent or 2
percent, but he deserves credit for turning such a big ship. The company has discontinued
some misguided marketing plans–notwithstanding the Lucky Dog dial-around offer–and
positioned itself in the Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) space ahead of some of its
And we hear the carrier that’s been sued by more people than the Fletcher Cos. is
turning resale-friendly. Mr. Armstrong is said to be talking up the importance of
wholesale to the company among listeners in the financial community.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Armstrong likes his personal space. When the
elevator’s going up, he’s not sharing the ride with anyone but his personal entourage.
JACK REICH, RON SPEARS AND DOUGLAS HUDSON
MONIKERS: President and CEO, COO and Executive Vice President, National
Distribution & Strategic Development, respectively, for e.spire Communications Inc.
STATUS: e.spire (formerly American Communications Services Inc., or ACSI), has
undergone an enormous transformation over the past two years. Mr. Reich and Mr. Spears
have restructured and re-established a high degree of credibility with Wall Street by
posting serious revenue growth after refocusing on fewer markets than originally planned
and higher penetration rates.
Through its networks in midsize metropolitan markets and a leased, coast-to-coast
broadband data communications network, e.spire now provides voice and data communications
services to a vast number of interexchange carriers (IXCs) and offers a competitive bundle
of wholesale products to resellers and agents.
But more exciting for the competitive long distance industry, in our view, is its
subsidiary, ACSI Network Technologies, spearheaded by Mr. Hudson. ACSI has built local
networks for other competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) for years, and even an IXC
we can’t name. This will only help a competitive long distance community that’s struggling
with local resale.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: At least three startup CLECs owe their entire
business plans to Mr. Hudson’s crew. ACSI not only builds networks, but business models
for any group who wants in the game.
JOHN BARNETT JR.
MONIKER: President, Wholesale Services Division, MCI WorldCom Inc.
STATUS: As the overseer of MCI WorldCom’s Wholesale Services Division, Mr.
Barnett is capable of affecting the entire competitive long distance industry with a
single executive decision. Moreover, the newly merged entity’s global reach and combined
product lines (MCI brings WorldCom added network reliability, a richer enhanced 800
service and some interesting software applications) will give wholesale customers a more
expansive menu of products.
Mr. Barnett’s team is scheduled to roll out a local resale product by first quarter of
next year. Although the bulk of MCI WorldCom’s local resale business probably will consist
of private lines, not dial tone, the ramifications of such an endeavor are huge for
customers and competitors alike.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Having recently gutted a new home and remodeled
it, Mrs. Sandy Barnett is the envy of a number of MCI WorldCom carrier sales execs who
yearn for that kind of pull in money matters.
MONIKER: Chairman, President and CEO, Intermedia Communications Inc.
STATUS: While consolidating network facilities, billing and support systems,
services, sales forces and other staff among its different businesses, which include those
of Intermedia and its recently acquired DIGEX, LDS Communications Group, National
Telecommunications of Florida and Shared Technologies Fairchild Inc., Intermedia went cash
positive (something unique for competitive local exchange carriers) in the second quarter
of this year.
In very short order, Mr. Ruberg has molded the fourth-largest frame relay provider in
the United States into a bona fide integrated communications provider (ICP) capable of
offering any voice or data service to just about anybody. And the company’s wholesale
programs allow resellers and agents to do the same.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Ruberg is an unmitigated first-generation
Star Trek fan. The way we hear it, he even chose his office furniture because it bore a
resemblance to the bridge of the Enterprise.
PAGET L. ALVES
President, Sprint Wholesale
STATUS: Two years ago we used to get phone calls from resellers who were furious
with the way Sprint treated them. We don’t get those calls anymore, and Mr. Alves is
largely responsible for that. We hesitate to mention this because it sounds sickeningly
sentimental, but resellers say he genuinely cares about his customers.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: The fitness buff weighs around 150 pounds but
benches over 300.
Senior Vice President of Broadband Capacity, Qwest Communications International Inc.
STATUS: The attorney’s appointment last year surprised a lot of people, but he’s
always been more comfortable as a deal maker. And is he making deals. In fact, with the
prices he’s peddling, one could say he’s order-taking, not selling. Nonetheless, his
aggressive pricing on network/capacity deals has carrier customers smiling and His
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: In the old days, Mr. Casey would have qualified
for a lead role in the movie Animal House. Today, he’s a teetotaler.
President, Williams Network and Senior Vice President, Williams Communications
STATUS: Mr. Semple has recruited and managed an experienced marketing and sales
team that’s grown revenues from zero to $200 million in a matter of months. That pace
should continue as Williams turns up more capacity and unleashes a switched voice product
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: The fellow who is responsible for Williams’ $3
billion network investment was at one time the officer in charge of a nuclear reactor on a
President and CEO, The Management Network Group
STATUS: Mr. Nespola is so smart it hurts, which is why nearly every significant
interexchange carrier and billing company has, at one time or another, called him in for
strategic and/or operational advice. His firm is focused on realities, not theory, and
With 175 consultants in the United States, TMNG recently got a cash infusion from
Behrman Capital to expand globally. Investment bankers tell us that the big-ticket
strategy consulting firms can’t even tie Nespola’s shoes.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: In the collecting department, Mr. Nespola is best
at acquiring loyal employees. Some current TMNG staffers have been with him through four
or five job changes, and turnover at TMNG is among the lowest in the industry. One
long-time associate said his secret is a tireless work ethic that includes fun and
"the best dinner parties."
MONIKER: President, Carrier Services, Frontier Corp.
STATUS: If Mr. Cassara were on a speedboat with no engine, it would still go
fast. In little more than one year, he’s turned Frontier’s wholesale group into a serious
contender that’s beginning to challenge first-tier carriers for wholesale market share.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: He recently went hunting for the first time, but
he kept his shotgun open and unloaded the entire trip because he was so concerned he might
shoot himself or colleague Brian Fitzpatrick.
MONIKER: Chief Executive Officer, Cable & Wireless USA
STATUS: Mr. Yalen recently lost Tom Murphy, perhaps the best network mind in the
business, and Mike Ferzacca (see No. 42), perhaps the best carrier sales executive in the
business, to Pacific Gateway Exchange Inc. But with the $1.75 billion acquisition of MCI’s
Internet business, Cable & Wireless now has one of the premiere Internet backbones in
the world–and the ability to provide integrated voice, data and Internet services around
The carrier’s extended reach and capabilities can only help its wholesale business,
which already bills about $1 billion annually.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Yalen’s passing his deal-making skills down
the line. In payment for performance beyond the call of teen-age duty during the MCI
Internet acquistion, son Alex has reportedly requested his own T1 connection to the
MONIKER: President, Wholesale Services, IXC Communications Inc.
STATUS: The fellow who sold the Bell Atlantic Corp. and NYNEX deals for Sprint
Corp. joined IXC only a few months ago, so it’s difficult to gauge his impact on the
company. We do know that he’s revamping IXC’s wholesale frame relay product to make it
easier for resellers to manage, if they have to manage it at all. Apparently, IXC plans to
handle the back-office functions for resellers who peddle the product.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Welsh designed the shirts that IXC employees
wore during the Spring Telecommunications Resellers Association (TRA) show, leaving them
convinced that he is colorblind.
Atlas Communications Ltd.
STATUS: Mr. Scardino is the consummate negotiator, and never hesitates to tell
you what you are supposed to be thinking. He’s presently in acquisition mode, quietly
buying small service providers and pieces of startups, peddling dark fiber deals involving
utilities, placing officers and executives with other carriers and somehow finding the
time to build a company that’s approaching $250 million in sales.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: As hard as he comes off sometimes, he’s actually
a softy. Ask him about his daughter’s recent wedding.
MONIKER: CEO, TeleHub Communications Corp.
STATUS: Seemingly out of nowhere, TeleHub has emerged on the scene to wow long
distance carriers, resellers and agents with a cutting-edge asynchronous transfer mode
(ATM) backbone long distance transmission network that integrates the delivery of a full
range of voice, data and video communications. This company is loaded with brilliant
computer and telecommunications technologists, and already operating the advanced
technology that so many others hope to roll out in the near future.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: TeleHub has four collocation spaces in the 1
Wilshire "Meet Me" room. These people are players.
MONIKER: President and COO, Business Telecom Inc. (BTI); President, Association
of Communications Companies of America (ACCA); Board Member, America’s Carriers
Telecommunication Association (ACTA)
STATUS: Mr. Newkirk presides over one of the industry’s rising stars. BTI is in
the process of deploying advanced optronics that will load the 3,500 miles of dark fiber
it purchased from Qwest Communications International Inc. with OC-192 capacity, tying New
York to Miami and Atlanta to Nashville. The company also is constructing a 65-mile fiber
optic network in North Carolina’s Research Triangle–linking Raleigh, Cary, Durham and the
Research Triangle Park–and deploying Lucent 5-ESS switches to provide local telephone
service in key markets.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Newkirk has really come up in stature over
the last year. More importantly, he has single-handedly glamorized the 10-day shadow at
industry trade shows.
MONIKER: President and CEO, Excel Communications Inc./Teleglobe Inc.
STATUS: Mr. Troutt holds roughly 55 percent of Excel’s stock, which not only
makes him the wealthiest person in the long distance business, but it means he’ll own
almost 25 percent of Teleglobe when its acquisition of Excel closes. Some pundits say he
will have little influence; others say he’ll have de facto control of the combined
company. We can’t imagine an Excel without Mr. Troutt. That’s like a church without a
Mr. Troutt and Excel essentially will be the marketing arm of Teleglobe’s global
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Rumor has it that Teleglobe Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer Charles Sorois is anxious to pursue his political ambitions. If that
happens, the man who industry veterans refer to as the Tony Robbins of telecom could wind
up running one of the world’s largest intercontinental carriers.
J. SHERMAN HENDERSON
MONIKER: President, UniDial Corp.; Chairman, Telecommunications Resellers
STATUS: Mr. Henderson is a marketing machine, and so perfectly suited to be
chairman of TRA, which is flourishing. In fact, he just might be the best chairman the
association has ever had. His own garden is doing quite well, also. Williams
Communications just invested $27 million to obtain equity in UniDial, which means the
company will be the first to distribute an equity or bonus payment to its agents.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: A few years back, about the time UniDial
announced its deal with PageMart, Mr. Henderson purchased a Lexus. On the way from the
dealership to his office, he noticed an irritating sound emanating from somewhere in the
car. He slowed down, listened and heard nothing. A few miles later the sound started up
again. He immediately took the car back to the dealership and explained that something was
wrong with his brand new car. Mechanics performed a detailed inspection, and reassured him
that everything was fine, but the pager crunched in the armrest of the driver’s seat
needed his attention.
MONIKER: President, TotalTel USA Communications Inc.
STATUS: Hess has been instrumental in building TotalTel’s carrier services
revenue from zero to $10 million a month, and he’s just getting started. The company is
about to spend millions to deploy five Nortel DMS 250-300s in New York, Chicago, Atlanta,
Miami and Los Angeles, and tie them together with an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM)
The crew from New Jersey is expanding its network presence and positioning to grow its
wholesale revenue, which already accounts for roughly 60 percent of its total book of
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: The former Bowling Green basketball player
actually jammed over Michael Jordan in a pickup game.
GORDON "DON" HUTCHINS JR.
MONIKER: President and CEO, GH Associates
STATUS: This telecom exec-turned-consultant is behind more scenes than a stage
hand, it seems. Following years of service under the limelight in roles such as CEO of
LDXNet and TelecomOne (acquired by WilTel and IXC Communications Inc., respectively), he
has spent the last few years as a strategic advisor to growing telecom concerns such as
IXC Communications and STAR Telecommunications Inc. as well as the resale industry’s
primary association, Telecommunications Resellers Association (TRA). He is now busy
replicating his domestic successes in building companies and industry associations
overseas. When he’s not on a plane trotting the globe, he is advising emerging and
established international carriers in Asia and Europe.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: A former ski team member, Mr. Hutchins’ need for
speed is manifesting itself in his latest quest for a Hinckley Picnic Boat. He’s said to
be scouting for available moorings near his newly constructed summer home on Cape Cod.
ROBERT HALE SR. AND ROBERT HALE JR.
MONIKER: Chairman and President of Network Plus, respectively
STATUS: After a long dance with Wall Street, the father-son team recently closed
a credit facility for $100 million, secured an 1,800-mile redundant fiber ring in New
England, put in place a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) strategy that will begin
in New York with a Lucent 5-ESS switch and increased its sales force from 96 to 225.
Particularly interesting will be their foray into the local business. If they can make
a go of it, we’ll all be better off.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Hale Sr. was the first and exclusive importer
of the Laura Ashley line. Mr. Hale Jr. played Lacrosse at Connecticut College and runs
religiously. In fact, he is 100 meters sprinter-like fast.
J. LYLE PATRICK
MONIKERS: Group Vice President, Finance, and CFO, McLeod USA; Chairman,
Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel)
STATUS: Aside from overseeing the financials and billing functions for one of
the few super-regional integrated communications providers (ICPs) in the country, Mr.
Patrick plays a significant role in shaping the direction of CompTel’s strategic and
public policy efforts on behalf of the long distance community.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: For the past four years, Mr. Patrick has dressed
up as that silly, willy, nilly ol’ bear, Winnie the Pooh, in the annual parade for Special
Olympians held in Mantoon, Ill. For the two most recent events, Mr. Patrick was joined by
wife Kimberly, who was dressed as Pooh’s pal Tigger.
MONIKER: President, North America, EconoPhone Inc.
STATUS: Last February, Mr. Alward was brought in to bolster and streamline the
company’s North American back-office functions and implement sales strategies for retail
and wholesale lines of business–basically the same thing he did as president and chief
operating officer of TotalTel USA Communications Inc.
The North American unit was already a money-making machine, but Mr. Alward now has it
firing on all cylinders.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: An avid automobile enthusiast, Mr. Alward owns an
eclectic collection of automobiles and frequently attends antique car shows.
MONIKER: President, Chairman and CEO, PaeTec Communications Inc.
STATUS: The former president of ACC Long Distance Corp. formed PaeTec in May and
is projected to operate as a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) in 35 first- and
second-tier markets and as a long distance carrier. The company’s roster is like a Who’s
Who list of telecom veterans, many of whom have a lot of experience with wholesale
channels of distribution.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Chesonis, a recipient of the Rochester
Business Journal‘s "Forty Under 40" award, is one of the industry’s most
MONIKER: President of Long Distance Services and Senior Group Vice President,
Wholesale Services, ICG Telecom Group Inc.
STATUS: Mr. Gandini is now the governor of ICG’s wholesale products–virtual
switch services (a switch partitioning service), special access, signaling system 7 (SS7)
signaling and connectivity, and dedicated long-haul service, to name a few–and therefore
impacting the competitive long distance business on a daily basis.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: He’s a legend in his own recording studio. He and
associate Tom Sumbler have actually cut a record.
MONIKER: Chairman and CEO, STAR Telecommunications Inc.
STATUS: We know, STAR is an international player. Well, yes, but as of Sept. 28,
STAR and investors in STAR also have a 59 percent interest in PaeTec Communications Inc.,
a long distance and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) based in Fairport, N.Y.
PaeTec President Arunas Chesonis (see No. 30) is on STAR’s board. STAR will provide PaeTec
with international long distance as well as collocation and long-haul fiber facilities.
Through the association, Mr. Edgecomb says STAR is planning to expand its addressable
markets and scope of its services to include local exchange, data and Internet access.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Although the ceremony was held in Santa Barbara,
Mr. Edgecomb’s Sept. 19 wedding to Maryann Antell was in true Hollywood style with
celebrities, rock stars, designer gowns, fireworks and a price tag of more than $5
JERE THOMPSON JR.
MONIKER: CEO, CapRock Communications Corp.
STATUS: CapRock is undergoing massive growth and expansion, building network
throughout Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Much of the 5,500-mile
route is scheduled for completion by late next year, but CapRock’s already playing with
the big boys. Mr. Thompson has assembled a seasoned management team that knows how to
deploy technology, and the competitive long distance community will be better off because
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Thompson is not the first entrepreneur in the
family. Grandfather Joe C. Thompson is the founder of 7-11 chain of convenience stores.
MONIKER: President, Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel)
STATUS: In his first six months as the association’s new president, Mr. Frisby’s
primary agenda has been raising the profile of the long distance carrier association. He
has launched a PR campaign that includes speaking and exhibition at business and industry
events and stepped up the group’s lobbying efforts concerning issues such as advanced
services and Section 271 compliance. On that score, the former state commissioner’s cachet
in the state regulatory circles is paying off for CompTel as it weighs in on Bell entry
into long distance at the local level.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Frisby, like David Ruberg (No. 12), is a
serious Trekkie. He has read many, if not all, of the Star Trek novels and can cite
specific episodes, story lines and histories of characters in alarming detail.
MONIKER: Chief Executive, Tel-Save Holdings Inc.
STATUS: Mr. Borislow’s America Online (AOL) deal was a stroke of genius and
continues to win over thousands of customers even though the rates advertised are barely
competitive anymore. The fact that the AOL deal opened a lot of eyes in the competitive
long distance business is reason enough to put him on the List, but we hear another jolt
is on the way.
Stay tuned for a surprising acquisition.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Known for his niceties, Mr. Borislow has a
curious habit of answering the phone and then hanging up on people.
CHARLES COLE III
MONIKER: Vice President, Carrier Sales, MCI WorldCom Inc.
STATUS: One of the original seven at WilTel, Mr. Cole continues to make his
presence felt in the competitive long distance community. For years we’ve heard execs from
carrier customers lament their negotiations with Mr. Cole, whose stoic pose with glasses
on the edge of his nose is legendary.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Ever since his mother became afflicted with
Alzheimer’s disease many years ago, Mr. Cole has passionately fought the ailment through
donations and volunteer work–so much volunteer work, in fact, that he was recently
nominated to the board of directors of the Alzheimer’s Association.
MONIKER: President and CEO, CSI Corp.
STATUS: Mr. Ramirez is building a tremendous arbitrage business. CSI makes huge
dollar commitments to most of the major interexchange carriers (IXCs), and turns around
and sells their DS-1s, DS-3s and switched services at lower rates. The company has
basically taken the agent approach to carrier sales. You don’t hear much about Mr. Ramirez
and Executive Vice President Jamie O’Steen, but they’re out there, in stealth mode,
hustling to save customers large dollars and make large dollars while they do it.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Some of his closest friends and business
associates say he’s too honest to be in the business. He often exposes his hand because he
would rather work off the relationships.
MONIKER: President, Coastal Telephone Company
STATUS: Coastal is one of the few remaining companies that is clearly
focused on the long distance business. Mr. Bursten isn’t trying to be everything to
everybody, he simply does what he does extremely well. He is disciplined, only selling
on-net, in his company’s trunked out, switch-based environment. (That would be BellSouth
Corp., SBC Communications Corp. and Ameritech Corp. regions). But the company is growing
continuously and is planning to deploy a switch in Indianapolis with others in Boston or
Philadelphia to follow.
Coastal doesn’t wholesale to resellers, but it has a very successful agent
program–conceived and managed by the infamous David Rosenfeld.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Bursten once turned down a contract to play
pro baseball in favor of the catcher’s spot on his college team at Tulane University. That
wasn’t his only brush with fame; we heard that he also was a high school teammate of the
Brentwood Estates’ houseguest Brian "Kato" Kaelin.
GENE "SKIP" LANE
MONIKER: President, Network One
STATUS: Mr. Lane is buying long distance companies, deploying switches, charging
into local markets as a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), quickly ramping up its
resale program and getting ready to launch a new buy-rate program for independent agents.
Aside from that, he doesn’t have much going on.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: In what colleagues call a blatant attempt to get
better rates, Mr. Lane married Ann Guerin, a sales rep for WorldCom Inc. But she left her
job after they had a baby girl in April and his plan was foiled. And, did you know that
Mr. Lane paid his way through college as a switchboard operator?
DR. JUDY REED SMITH
MONIKER: CEO, ATLANTIC-ACM
STATUS: A favorite on the speaking circuit, Dr. Judy Reed Smith is the founder
and chief executive officer of ATLANTIC-ACM, the Boston-based strategy consulting firm
that made a name for itself as the first to put its arms around the then-nascent long
distance resale-wholesale market. Her firm’s numbers have been the justification for many
a long distance startup over the years.
Dr. Reed Smith’s company has grown since its start in the late ’80s, and now covers
emerging competitive local exchange, voice/data and Internet protocol (IP) telephony
markets. Further proof of its growth: The firm is installing its first T1 this year.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Don’t let her pedigree fool you; this Harvard
graduate isn’t all work and no play. She spends every Thanksgiving holiday windsurfing in
Aruba or another tropical paradise (laptop in tow, no doubt).
ITZAK FISHER AND ED THOMAS
MONIKER: Founder, President and CEO of RSL Communications Ltd. and President of
RSL COM USA, respectively
STATUS: With its recent acquisition of Westinghouse Communications, RSL COM
gains a U.S. network capable of providing voice, data, frame relay, transmission control
protocol (TCP)/Internet protocol (IP) and other enhanced services on a wholesale basis.
Now that RSL’s U.S.-based international gateways are tied to Westinghouse’s five core
switches, it can originate and terminate calls just about anywhere around the globe.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: RSL’s acquisition is only the beginning. A wave
of international carriers will make a run on U.S.-based network providers in 1999.
MONIKER: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Pacific Gateway Exchange
STATUS: Mr. Ferzacca is just getting started at Pacific Gateway Exchange, but
when the wheels get rolling, watch out. He’s shrewd, but in a flattering way, and knows
the business cold. The guy is bulletproof, and certain to put PGE on the map domestically.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: PGE lured Mr. Ferzacca away from Cable &
Wireless by giving him enough stock options to choke a horse.
MONIKERS: General Manager, Thrifty Call; Board member, America’s Carriers
Telecommunication Association (ACTA) and the Competitive Telecommunications Association
STATUS: Thrifty Call has a sizable long distance business, but it’s been making
headway in local markets as a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) lately, largely
due the efforts of Mr. James. Actually, we all owe a debt to Mr. James for fighting the
good fight to open up local markets in SBC Communications Corp.’s territory.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: An argument with an SBC staffer nearly turned
physical during a meeting the Texas Public Utility Commission.
ERNEST B. KELLY III
MONIKER: President, Telecommunications Resellers Association (TRA)
STATUS: Leaving the glitz to his new lieutenant, Mr. Kelly has managed to build
one of the industry’s most successful associations the old-fashioned way: one member at a
time. He makes it a priority to visit members at their headquarters–be they in New York
or Fairfield, Iowa. Thanks in part to Mr. Kelly’s efforts, TRA’s rolls are now approaching
700, nearly double the members in 1994 when he came aboard. Mr. Kelly also has helped
expand TRA’s interests to include international, wireless and Internet services. He and
his growing staff continues to anticipate market turns, weighing in for resellers on
up-and-coming issues, like resale of advanced data services.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Ask him about his friend Lance Sterling.
President, Alternate Channels, Cable & Wireless Communications Inc.
STATUS: Ms. Corner is a protigi of Mike Ferzacca’s, and she’s earned a
reputation not unlike his: She is one of the best. She’s also responsible for developing
one of the hottest agent programs on the street, Cable & Wireless’ Partner Program, to
which agents are flocking.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: She’s tough, driven, ambitious and enjoys the
finer things in life. She’s sort of a modern-day Cleopatra: powerful but not suicidal.
BILL CAPRARO JR.
MONIKER: President, CIMCO Communications Inc.
STATUS: If service providers looked into a crystal ball, they would see The
Candy Man, Mr. Capraro Jr., who is operating the model of the future. CIMCO bundles
service and equipment solutions (customer premise equipment, local area networks and wide
area networks), and is very data- centric. As computing and communications technologies
continue to converge, the CIMCOs of the world will prosper.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: His mom runs a very successful company that
private-labels chocolate treats. She is 70 years old and drives around a new convertible
Jaguar. Mr. Capraro is young at heart, also, and probably the best guy nobody knows.
BRIAN NOEL AND ROMAN ALEXANDER
MONIKER: Vice President of Alternate Channels and Director of Alternate
Channels, respectively, Level 3 Communications Inc.
STATUS: This tandem doesn’t have much to sell right now, but that will change
shortly (see No. 3). Mr. Noel worked for AT&T Corp.’s information technology (IT)
business years ago, developing alternate channels of distribution, and recently departed a
similar job at Cisco Systems Inc. to join Level 3. Years ago, Mr. Alexander was
instrumental in building the alternate channels business of Metromedia Long Distance. He
also spent four years with MFS Communications Co. Inc., where he developed and managed an
alternate channels group.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Noel is somewhat of a mystery. All we know is
that he’s British and loves to play golf. Mr. Alexander is a former radio disc jockey with
a vinyl fetish: He has more than 6,000 records.
MONIKER: CEO, TMC Communications Inc.
STATUS: Mr. Marsch’s much-publicized agent equity program is largely responsible
for giving birth to a frenzy of agent equity and bonus programs offered by other long
distance providers. His program and the others that followed are essentially changing the
relationships between agents and their carrier partners.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: He owns two planes and frequently flies in them
for business as well as pleasure.
President, Wholesale Services, GST Communications Inc.
STATUS: Since joining GST earlier this year, this arms dealer has been given a
fair amount of autonomy and quietly built a sizeable wholesale/carrier book of business.
GST has new leadership and is going through a bit of a transition, so it’s difficult to
project just how much ammunition Mr. Floyd will be pushing on behalf of the company, but
we think plenty if GST continues its aggressive long-haul network builds in the West.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr Floyd actually scored a 17 on a par 4.
WILLIAM POWER AND GREGORY PRASKE
MONIKER: President and CEO of Association Resource Group (ARG), respectively
STATUS: The boys from ARG, as they are called by agents and carriers alike, are
working to assemble what is called a "20 Group" in the automotive industry,
wherein 20 or so executives from noncompeting dealerships gather regularly to exchange
information and ideas–essentially help each other. But the agents involved are working
toward creating some form of a buying consortium, which has fueled a feeding frenzy among
carriers and resellers.
HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER: Mr. Power, an amiable go-with-your-gut type, and
Mr. Praske, a super-analytical thinker, first met more than 20 years ago when they were
cocky college grads working for the National Air Transportation Association. It’s their
dissimilarities, not their similarities, that have kept them together and made them