Our FierceTelecom Person of the Year for 2008 is... Barack Obama. No, we didn't just choose him because it was easy to link to an existing image calling him Person of the Year-though that is pretty darn convenient, isn't it?
You might also wonder why we chose a guy who hasn't much of a telecom track record, and who has four years of potentially affecting the telecom industry still ahead of him. However, it could be said that Obama's election as President itself created an interesting situation for the telecom industry that will send ripple effects through telecom for the next four years. His positions on a variety of issues and the expectation of his positions on others to come have created a sense of ambiguity unlike anything we saw under the last two Presidents.
For example, as of right now, broadband looks to be part of the massive economic stimulus program to be delivered by an Obama-energized Congress, yet Obama also is likely to push for Net neutrality legislation that some of the beneficiaries of broadband stimulus will find un-appetizing. Also, Obama supported telco immunity from wiretapping lawsuits this year after originally being against it, but as the issue continues to flair and Obama finds out more of the government's secrets, could he again modify his position in some way?
We also don't know yet who the FCC chairman under Obama will be, or whether or not Obama's promise to create a national CTO position will have a significant impact, but Obama is the man who will set all of this in motion-and we set it in motion when we elected him on Nov. 4.
As always, I offer to deliver the award-a laminated copy of these words-personally to the award winner. I'm free Jan. 20, if that works.
Thanks to those of you who have commented in the last two days and submitted your vote for FTPotY. We seriously considered all five of the candidates we mentioned, and almost chose both Randall Stephenson and Ivan Seidenberg in the first-ever FTPotY tie, but in both cases, we think some of the supporting cast may deserve more notice. Thanks again for your input.
Otherwise, welcome to our FierceTelecom 2008 Year in Review. We've chosen our Top 6 stories of the year-not singular events, but issues and trends that continued to play out in the headlines throughout 2008. Honestly, it was hard to choose just six, and you may not agree, so make your own list and tell us about your choices for the top news of 2008. I don't know how many of us are looking forward to 2009, but that's where we're headed, whether we like it or not.
P.S. - FierceTelecom will be on publishing holiday until Monday, Jan. 5. We will resume our daily coverage of all things telecom then, so until that day, have a happy holiday, and thanks for reading!