When it comes to the mega-warriors of the telecom revolution, Ivan Seidenberg is one whos seen it all — from the front lines to the copper lines.
He started his career in telecommunications some 30 years ago as a cable splicers assistant. More recently, as chief executive of Bell Atlantic, he spliced his operations with fellow regional bell GTE to form Verizon Communications, the largest of the new telecom-glomerates, which have used their local phone service to launch worldwide business opportunities.
Seidenbergs public speaking engagements have followed Verizons international footprint. He has not been shy about using the platform of his corporate success to push a dynamic telecommunications agenda, one that reflects his vision of an interconnected global village — much of it wireless.
Seidenberg is widely seen as a CEO with a unique vision of the telecom world, in part because he literally knows the business from the ground up and has seen its evolutionary cycle from many vantage points. Today Seidenberg, 54, is among of the most powerful and politically savvy of the big telecom corporate players. His résumé includes a stretch as government affairs director for Bell Atlantic, where he did some network building of his own.
As he pushes Verizons growth model — particularly in wireless and long-distance –hes likely to make his voice heard in any rethinking of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and any Federal Communications Commission makeovers by the Bush administration. In a speech before the National Press Club last December, Seidenberg laid out his view of the regulatory landscape — one in which he paints the FCC as stagnant and shackled to outdated, arbitrary regional jurisdictions at a time when telecom technology is erasing traditional boundaries. The disparity, he contends, actually stifles development of competition.
“The trouble is, we cracked the human genome in less time than it took to open the long-distance market in a single state,” Seidenberg said, referring to Verizons strenuous effort to win long-distance authority in New York. “The funny thing about this is that, after years of regulatory inducements designed to entice competitors into the local market, the only thing that really worked to get competitors to invest in local networks was to let us into long-distance.”