Our Person of the Year is...
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is our FierceTelecom 2007 Person of the Year. At his request, I will fly from my home in Chicago to Washington, D.C., to present him with his award, which is a printed-out, laminated copy of these very words.
Martin is our Person of the Year for reasons both positive and negative. He is both famous and--as several readers pointed out to me--infamous. His industry influence is obvious by his position, but in 2007 I think he went the extra mile and got as much out of it as possible. He somehow walked the line between being a big-company man on the telco side of the telecom industry and a champion of competition on the cable TV side. Yet, the FCC also found time under his guidance to address--somewhat thoughtfully--universal service funding and rural broadband, though most observers would say not enough progress has been made.
Martin even found time, primarily in connection with his campaign against dominance by big cable TV players, to alienate the other two members of the FCC that were supposed to be his allies--Republicans Robert McDowell and Deborah Taylor Tate. In the end, he clamped down on the cable TV industry while relying on what some said were inaccurate market measurements, but he let big telcos have some forbearance freedom. All in all, he made the FCC a source of great interest, if also infuriation, during 2007.
Only two of the dozen readers who emailed me in the last two days agreed with my choice for FierceTelecom Person of the Year. Six reader votes went to AT&T chief Randall Stephenson, who some readers believe is doing a nice job managing a massive company through integration challenges and innovation opportunities. Three votes went to Cisco top-dog John Chambers, two votes to Martin, one vote to Time Warner Telecom CEO Larissa Herda, and a big fat zero, fittingly, for for former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio.
That's all for 2007. FierceTelecom will be on a holiday break next week like everyone else, and will return Jan. 2, 2008. Happy Holidays! - Dan