RealTime IT News

Wireless Pro Tapped to Run Covad

After seven months of searching, Covad Communications Group board of directors named its new president and chief executive officer Tuesday.

Charles Hoffman, former president of Rogers AT&T Wireless in Canada, takes the reins from Frank Marshall, who has been the interim chief executive officer since November 2000. Marshall will remain with Covad as vice chairman of the board.

The position was vacated in November when former chairman, president and chief executive officer Robert Knowling resigned two weeks after the troubled data competitive local exchange carrier (DLEC) posted a larger-than-expected third quarter 2000 loss.

On paper, selecting Hoffman as the man to turn around the company's digital subscriber line (DSL) business is a strange one. Hoffman, a 17-year telecommunications pro, has built an impressive resume in the wireless telephone arena.

In his last stint, as president and chief executive officer at Rogers AT&T Wireless, he was responsible for pushing wireless across the spectrum to Canadians. He did a stellar job, spearheading the operations that made the company the largest wireless provider in the country and put three million subscribers on the wireless network.

Before that, he was on the ground floor when Sprint PCS started is build-up of a nationwide wireless telephone network, as the northeast region president. That came two years after working for SBC Communications International as the managing director of its wireless division.

Martha Sessums, Covad spokesperson, said the search for a new CEO centered around someone with broadband experience, not necessarily DSL-only acumen.

"We looked at his resume and saw that he had a lot of broadband experience, and more importantly, he had a lot of business broadband experience," Sessums said. "Here's somebody who has had to sell against DSL (in Canada), so he understands DSL and the other broadband options very well.

"We weren't looking for someone only in the DSL world, because the industry's only four years old," Sessums continued.

Hoffman will need to take that marketing and business strength he has a master of business administration degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis -- and quickly apply it to a company that has been fighting off financial troubles throughout 2001.

Two weeks ago, Covad posted a $1.44 billion loss in 2000 after stalling its report to Nasdaq. That, coupled with a depressed Internet market and intense competition with other DSL providers, has made profits a relatively unknown word in its corporate offices.

Nasdaq also informed the company recently that the company no longer met the minimum listing requirements on the exchange. It now trades under the ticker symbol COVDE.

Hoffman said he looks forward to the challenge DSL will provide and expects the ship that is Covad to quickly right itself.

"Although the DSL industry has its mix of challenges, I am confident that the worst is behind us and that Covad is now, more than ever, better positioned to capitalize on the broadband opportunity," Hoffman said. "Covad's previously-announced first quarter operational results demonstrate that the demand for DSL continues to soar and that Covad has the systems and capabilities in place to scale the business by quickly adding subscribers and new services to its nationwide network."

"I'm eager to dive into the business, execute on our profitability plan and re-establish the confidence in Covad's leadership and strategic decision."

Hoffman will take control of Covad operations June 25.