Ranking the most powerful people in the wireline industry

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomTake a look at our first annual 15 Most Powerful People in Wireline feature and you'll see many of the same people that FierceTelecom writes about every day in the telecom news.

These people are the engines behind the innovations and service initiatives that are transforming the wireline industry segment from being a regulated provider of just voice services and into IP and broadband service providers.   

These days, the wireline segment executive, including network operators and their vendor partners are faced with a number of challenges from hungry cable operators ready to eat their lunch but also wireless operators that are enticing consumers and businesses alike to ditch their traditional black phones with smart phones that allow them to communicate anytime anywhere.

But where there are challenges there are multiple opportunities. Service providers and their vendor partners are targeting new opportunities to deliver consumer-rich video service (FTTH services, IPTV and over the top (OTT) video) and emerging business services (Cloud and Ethernet). 

A number of our picks were chosen for different reasons. Our rankings have grouped industry segments such as the tier one and tier two telcos, vendors and other industry influencers like the FCC and ARIN are based on what influence they have on the wireline segment of the telecom industry overall.

In Reed Hastings' case, the founder and CEO of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) may not be a traditional telecom executive, but there's no doubt that his all-you-can-eat video streaming service is driving greater amounts of bandwidth on every telco and cable broadband network.

Meanwhile, Glen Post, President and CEO of CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), instantly transformed the once small town voice-only rural telephone company formerly known as CenturyTel into not only the third largest U.S.-based telco behind AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) by acquiring Qwest. In addition to Qwest, CenturyLink bolstered its cloud vision even further with a new deal to acquire Savvis Communications.

At the same time, some of our most powerful honorees are facing some of the biggest challenges of their career.

For one, John Chambers, the CEO of the mighty Cisco, is trying to realign the structure of his business by shedding some of the consumer assets that have struggled to be profitable including the shuttering of its Flip camera business. Chambers is now trying to right the ship to restore investor and customer faith, including a refocus on Cisco's core routing and switching business and emerging areas like cloud services.

Of course, don't forget to take a look back at my colleagues at FierceWireless and their own annual Most Powerful People in Wireless feature.

Like FierceWireless, our list is also a compilation of the major game changers in the U.S. wireline industry.

Since I know not everyone is going to agree with our choices, I'd encourage you to share with us your thoughts in the comments section.--Sean

P.S. Feel free to vote in our poll: Who is the most Powerful Person poll.