10 competitive telecom executives to watch in 2011

Top 10 competitive providers 2011The competitive telecom service provider market in 2011 is in the midst of a transition period, with rapid consolidation between regional and national players--making a ripe environment for executives positioned to lead their companies through this change. Who are the leaders to watch among telecom's competitive players?

Windstream's (Nasdaq: WIN) Jeff Gardner, one of our 2010 Competitive Service Provider honorees, is an example of the kind of guide a company needs in rough transitional waters. He's leading the company through its acquisition of PAETEC (Nasdaq: PAET), one of the largest CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier)deals and one that will significantly impact the market.

Executives of other smaller CLECs are taking a similarly aggressive tack--efforts we'll detail in this year's list of honorees.

Take, for instance, Bill LaPerch, president and CEO of  AboveNet. While LaPerch has yet to find the right priced acquisition, he's led the service provider toward solid profits by providing high-speed optical connections to domestic and international service providers and businesses.

Then, there's Vincent Oddo of Birch Communications, which just this month completed its acquisition of Cordia. Under Oddo's leadership, Birch also acquired 12 other companies since 2006 as part of what Oddo calls a "tuck in" strategy that goes after deals for service providers that have similar geographies and service sets.

Encroaching into the traditional CLEC space are cable operators such as Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), which are flexing their business services arms to target larger enterprises with fiber-based Ethernet, wireless backhaul and other wholesale opportunities. MSOs (multiple system operators), despite their regional nature, are also becoming a bigger threat in the end services and wholesale market as more businesses and wireless operators look for alternative providers for their needs.

Three other sub-segments of the competitive telecom market are also worth noting: carrier agnostic service providers, middle mile network providers, and wholesale telecommunications services.

In this year's list of top competitive provider executives, we ranked our top 10 by a few criteria: those executives who have created a profitable business and can spend money; those who are setting trends and opening new markets; and those who, like Jerry James, CEO of COMPTEL, have the power to change market direction through advocacy and education.

Join us as we profile each executive and examine these industry trends.--Sean

P.S. Take a look at our 2010 and 2009 honorees and let us know if there are other competitive service provider executives we should consider.

Brian Worthen, Mammoth Networks
David Allen, GWI
Jim McGann, Charter 8
Dick Jalkut, TelePacific 7
Brian Crotty, Broadview 6
Jerry James, Comptel 5
Ernest Cunningham, OneSource 4
Bill Stemper, Comcast 3
Vincent Oddo, Birch 2
Bill LaPerch, AboveNet 1