Rosemary Cochran, Vertical Systems Group

Rosemary Cochran, Vertical Systems GroupRosemary Cochran, Principal and co-founder of Norwood, Mass.-based Vertical Systems Group (VSG), has been in the number-crunching business of telecom business service since long before it was in fashion.

This year, VSG celebrates 25 years delivering market research focused on the telecom business service sector. Cochran co-founded Vertical Systems Group in 1986 with fellow Principal and co-founder Rick Malone following a number of sales and marketing stints at the former computer timesharing provider Tymenet and a T1 multiplexing startup.

In describing the firm's research methodology, Cochran says that by mapping user requirements to the supply of vendor solutions they are able to provide what she calls a "real world" perspective. That mantra has not changed much during VSG's 25-year history.  

Interestingly, VSG was formed only a few years after the legacy AT&T Bell System divestiture, a time when competitive choice was limited to mainly incumbent carriers and pioneering innovators like MCI--now Verizon Business (NYSE: VZ). Since then, the business market has evolved from slower speed leased-line T1 circuits and later Frame Relay and ATM circuits to increasingly higher speed Ethernet services.

In the wireline business world, what Vertical Systems Group is known for by business service providers is its Emerging Networks Service (ENS) program that provides specific research modules on business service segments, including Ethernet, fiber, IP/MPLS, and leased lines in addition to paid specialized consulting services.

But what Cochran and her team have become increasingly known for in the Ethernet services segment is its quarterly Leaderboard ranking of both U.S. and international service providers.

While the Leaderboard rankings continue to be led by both U.S. carriers including AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon, and international incumbent carriers including Orange/France Telecom (NYSE: FTE), the Leaderboard continues to show the growing presence of competitive carriers, including aggressive CLECs like tw telecom (Nasdaq: TWTC) and XO Communications (OTC BB: XOHO), as well as the growing presence of cable operators such as Cox Business, which offer business class Ethernet services .

Cochran's efforts have not gone overlooked. In addition to being cited in various industry publications throughout the course of VSG's history, she was named as one of the 25 "Unsung Heroes" of the Internet.

Rosemary Cochran, Vertical Systems Group