People of the Year 2005
Below, Unstrung presents the individuals who have made the biggest impacts in the wireless industry in the last 12 months 2005. Well, four people and one gadget...
Paul Jacobs, CEO, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM): Jacobs took over Qualcomm only this year, replacing his father Irwin, but the son has already put his mark on the cellular giant.
2005 was the year that it became clear that Qualcomm could and would move beyond pure CDMA in order to remain a major wireless player. In August, the company surprised many in the industry by buying wireless broadband startup Flarion Technologies Inc. , the creator of Flash-OFDM technology for mobile broadband networks. (See Qualcomm Calls on Flarion.
But Jacobs and crew were merely acknowledging the growing influence of WiMax and other broadband wireless technologies, and setting the stage for battle over exactly which firms will hold the key to 4G wireless technology in 2006.
Jeff Thompson, CEO, Towerstream Corp. (Nasdaq: TWER): Jacobs set out in '05 to prove that WiMax can work even before the technology was officially given the green light by the WiMAX Forum .
All year, the startup operator, which offers customers "wireless DSL" services using so-called "Pre-WiMax" equipment, has been building out networks in cities like Oakland and San Francisco, as well as growing in existing ones, such as NYC and Boston. (See WiMax & 'Jet Blue Economics'.
Not too shabby, especially when you consider the firm's main competition isn't other startups but huge operators like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Ron Sege, CEO, Tropos Networks Inc. : The head of the metro-mesh startup could probably keep humming the Springsteen tune "Streets of Philadelphia" to himself over and over and be happy with his year.
Along with EarthLink Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK), Tropos clinched the first really important citywide WiFi mesh networking deal in the U.S., over loud squawks from incumbent service providers like Verizon.
Tropos, which now claims over 200 metro-mesh customers, has basically helped to put the concept of using multiple interconnected access points to provide inexpensive public broadband on the map in 2005. Which is no small feat in itself when you consider the years where wireless mesh networking was a technology in search of an application.
Paul Funk, President, Funk Software: Selling his company to Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) for $122 million in November, Funk revealed what a solid little security empire he had built. (See Juniper Gets Funky.) "Everyone uses Funk," didn't turn out to be much of an overstatement. Wonder what Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and others will do in '06? (See Cisco's Funk Breakdown.) The Smartphone: Hands down the de rigeur object of the year. Everyone seems to have broken down and bought one after what seems like a decade of hype. Around here, the Treo appears to be the model of choice. Unstrung is still not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it is unavoidable... So the smartphone gets its props as the gadget de 2006.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung