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25 Most Influential People in Mobile Technology

Counting down the biggest movers and shakers in mobility.


/uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Business/25-Influential-People-NN12_sh.jpg#8 Most Influential Person in Mobile Technology

Lowell McAdam

Position: President and CEO, Verizon Wireless
Age: 53
Location: Basking Ridge, N.J.

McAdam has put Verizon Wireless on a course to support non-Verizon devices and applications, a major departure for the historically closed carrier. “If we move out five or ten years, we should be able to take our phone and change from carrier to carrier,” said independent analyst Jeff Kagan. “Verizon started that ball rolling. As soon as they said it, all the carriers jumped in and said they were doing the same thing.”

GSM networks (like AT&T and T-Mobile) are already somewhat open by design, but Verizon’s announcement still has weight. “In terms of leadership, this announcement is an important step because it creates some pressure on the industry to open up the mobile Internet,” said IDC analyst Karsten Weide.

McAdam also led Verizon Wireless to be the first national carrier with an “unlimited” plan, with AT&T and T-Mobile announcing similar plans on the same day and Sprint’s version following a week later. “Sprint offers a more comprehensive plan than Verizon, but the fact that [Verizon] came out ahead of time spoiled the party for Sprint a little,” Gartner analyst Tole Heart suggested.

“It changed the wireless world,” Kagan said. “Could you say it was Verizon who started it? Or was it Dan Hesse [Sprint’s CEO, who had been quoted considering the move earlier]? I don’t know . . . but Verizon was first.”

Another far-reaching decision was to use LTE technology for 4G, effectively abandoning the carrier’s CDMA heritage and bringing it more in line with the rest of the world. “There are lots of advantages,” Heart said, citing greater handset selection, global roaming, and lower equipment costs among them.

McAdam will be leveraging Verizon Wireless’ recent $9.36 billion 700-MHz auction bounty to roll out the network beginning in 2010, which the company has said will bring “a tidal wave of innovation” to the wireless space.

Did You Know: McAdam worked for six years in the U.S. Navy’s Engineer Corps and is a licensed professional engineer.

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