Introducing the 2011 25 Most Powerful People in the U.S. Wireless Industry

They control the spectrum we use, the bandwidth we consume, the smartphones we buy, and in some cases even the apps we download. These are the movers and shakers that are shaping the wireless industry today and preparing it for tomorrow.

When we compiled the 2011 list of the 25 Most Powerful People in the U.S. Wireless Industry, we selected individuals who we believe have a unique mix of influence, business savvy, leadership and technical expertise. We also considered suggestions from readers who responded to our poll question last month asking them who they thought was the most powerful person in the U.S. wireless industry.

Some of the selections might surprise you. We've seen a lot of movement in the C-level positions at top wireless firms over the past year, so there are some new names on our list. For example, Bill Morrow, the former CEO of Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) , is no longer with the company and is gone from our list. But John Stanton, long-time industry veteran and chairman of Clearwire, made the cut. Likewise, former Google (NAS: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt (and our No. 1 pick on the 2010 Powerful People list) is now the chairman of that firm and is no longer on our list because he is less visible in the industry.

Another interesting trend is that in the past we often selected the head of the mobile division within a more mainstream company for our list -- such as Andrew Lees, the president of Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) mobile communications business. But with mobile becoming such an integral part of every company we think that a firm's wireless strategy has to be top-of-mind for the CEO. So this year we selected Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, for our list because Microsoft's wireless business is so critical to the firm.

But power can be fleeting. Many members of our 2010 list are gone from the 2011 list. Phillip Humm, CEO of T-Mobile, was No. 11 last year but didn't make the list this year because he's been virtually absent from view since AT&T (NYS: T) announced its intent to purchase T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in March. Likewise, Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola (NYS: MMI) , was No. 7 on the 2010 list, but was removed from the 2011 list because he also has a much lower profile since Google announced its plans to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion in August.

This list is a compilation of who we think are the innovators and leaders in the U.S. wireless industry. We realize that wireless is a global business, and many of our candidates oversee international companies, but we selected people based upon their influence here in the United States.

You may not agree with all our picks but I can assure you that this list was not compiled lightly. The Fierce editors scrutinized every person we selected to make sure we could justify their position. Nevertheless, I encourage you to write me or comment below and let us know if you disagree with our picks or think we overlooked someone.

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