RealTime IT News

Former Cabinet Member Named SBC President

SBC Communications officials announced Monday they have hired a former Commerce Department chief to lead them through an increasingly treacherous regulatory and government landscape.

William Daley, U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1997-2000, will report directly to Edward Whitacre, SBC chairman and chief executive officer, in the future and signals the belief by many on SBC's board of directors that it will need a strong government insider to succeed in today's regulatory environment.

The announcement ends months of speculation the Illinois native would run for governor or even senator in the Midwest state. Many top Democrats were hoping the man who helped Al Gore run his presidential election campaign would try to take the top spot in the state.

Responsible for the Bell's strategic planning, regulatory matters, governmental initiatives and international affairs, Daley has his work cut out for him.

SBC is losing ground with regulators and Congress alike as it tries to find room to expand its digital subscriber line (DSL) business in a manner that benefits itself the most.

Earlier this year, the highly controversial Tauzin-Dingell Bill, which would have eliminated many of the regulatory constraints imposed by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, suffered a messy end on Capital Hill and is likely gone forever in its current state. SBC and the other three Bells lobbied hard for the bill, despite widespread opposition for the bill.

SBC is also looking to expand its long-distance coverage in its 13-state footprint, the holy grail of the Bells since Ma Bell's breakup in the 1980s. Despite Federal Communications Commission approval to enter Arkansas and Missouri last week, the telephone company has been stymied in its attempts to reach California, Nevada and the Midwest.

Daley, who's brother Richard is the mayor of Chicago, said he is looking forward to the challenge the presidency of SBC will bring and what he can do to help.

"One of the many things that attracted me here was the company's commitment to maintain outstanding relations within the policymaking arena, and I intend to build on that," Daley said. "Additionally, SBC's leadership position in delivering broadband and its strong commitment to its customers and communities was very important to me.''

It's expected that Daley's ties in Illinois, and by extension the entire Midwest region, will bode well for SBC as it tries to establish long-distance approval in those states. So far SBC, and its subsidiary Ameritech, are encountering substantial resistance from competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) who say the Bell is not living up to its promise to deliver competitive services.

On the other hand, Daley's investment experience will help SBC immeasurably as it takes its wireless venture public next year, despite the fact many experts consider the U.S. is going through a recession at this time.

Whitacre said he is confident Daley is up to the task and is delighted to have Daley on his senior management team to take responsibility in areas "critical to SBC's future."

"His appointment as president of SBC signals the importance of governmental matters to our company's ability to grow revenues, compete effectively and meet our customers' needs," Whitacre said. "Bill's unique blend of business and governmental experience, combined with his strong leadership and management abilities will serve SBC well in today's environment."

Daley's resume shows he will be more than capable to take on the challenges SBC faces in the very near future. In addition to his three-year stint as Commerce Secretary, he was the vice chairman of Evercore Capital Partners, LP (a private equity investment firm), president and chief operating office at Chicago's Amalgamated Bank and a partner at law firm Daley & George.

Daley received his law degree from John Marshall Law School and is a board member of EDS.