What makes her powerful:
Maggie Wilderotter, CEO & Chairman, Frontier
The one-time SVP of cellular pioneer McCaw Cellular Communications (now AT&T Wireless) has continued to transform Frontier Communications (NYSE: FTR) since taking the helm as Chairman and CEO in 2006.
But when the telecom history books add a chapter on Wilderotter, the one main accomplishment that she'll be noted for was how she led Frontier's effort to acquire Verizon's rural lines in 14 states for $5.25 billion.
Upon wrapping up the Verizon purchase last July, Frontier instantly expanded its ILEC operations into 14 states, a factor that instantly expanded its holdings with an additional 4.8 million rural access lines and 11,000 employees.
Seeing the well documented issues that other service providers--namely FairPoint (Nasdaq: FRP) and Hawtel--had in acquiring and integrating former Verizon assets, telecom industry pundits cast doubt on Frontier's ability to run the new lines. Apart from some early hiccups in its West Virginia market--problems that were largely attributed to the fact that Verizon had long ago abandoned the lines--has managed to mostly steer clear of the problems that plagued its other ILEC brethren.
While the integration efforts are ongoing, Wilderotter's main drive in serving the existing Verizon territories are all about revamping and updating the lines to deliver more reliable POTS service and of course broadband DSL services.
Last fall, the service provider embarked on its The Great Conversations Tour, a five-day expedition during which a team of Frontier employees will travel via RV to stage events in 10 cities in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The effort, which was led by John Lass, Frontier's Central Region president, centered on Frontier's goal to make 85 percent of the former Verizon properties broadband capable in two years.
Of course, the transition of Verizon's lines hasn't been without some controversy, namely its drive to get out of the FiOS TV business it runs in Oregon and Washington State due to the expense of running the networks and systems. Following months of rate hikes and rumors--factors that struck frustration in both regulators and consumers--Wilderotter admitted in May that it formally wanted out of the FiOS TV business.
Going forward, Wilderotter will have the challenge of figuring out how to go lightly out of the video business and enforce the message that it is dedicated to serving the needs of its largely rural business consumer-based customer set.