Jim O'Brien, EarthLink

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Jim O'Brien, Earthlink

O'Brien

Riding the growing managed IT services market wave can be a real challenge, but it's a spot in which EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) is doing well thanks to a focus on building both its IP infrastructure and its managed services technologies. Jim O'Brien, EVP of Network Services and Customer Operations, is responsible for keeping it all running smoothly.

O'Brien managed data networks in other industries including at The Associated Press, but he started his telecom career at the former TCG/AT&T, moving to director of the Network Management Center in Staten Island, N.Y. In 2001, he joined ICG Communications as SVP for Engineering and Operations, and four years later moved to ITC^Deltacom as EVP of Operations.

When EarthLink's aggressive drive to build itself into super-CLEC status led it to acquire regional CLEC ITC^Deltacom in 2010, O'Brien moved with the provider into its new role as part of its integration into the larger company.

The $516 million ITC^Deltacom acquisition was one of EarthLink's most important purchases, instantly deepening its network base with a 16,400-route mile network in the Southeast, and a 14-state SON (Synchronous Optical Network) backbone with 35 metro fiber rings, 294 colocations and 20 voice and data switches. EarthLink's $370 million bid for One Communications in December 2010 added an IP network footprint in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and and Midwest regions stretching across 28,000 route miles and overlapping parts of ITC^Deltacom's network.

Combined with a series of smaller purchases, EarthLink is well-positioned as a provider of key services including wholesale as well as managed IT services developed to serve multisite business customers who need the same quality of service no matter what region their offices are located in.