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AFTER GREEN LIGHT, TELEDESIC PUTS MCCAW BEHIND THE WHEEL

Teledesic LLC, the global satellite internet venture backed by Bill Gates and cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, has pushed its chief executive David Twyer upstairs to make room for McCaw in the driver’s seat. McCaw, already the company’s chairman, will assume the additional role of CEO as the company enters the next stage of its plan to offer broadband internet access and videoconferencing to everyone on the planet through a $9bn network of 288 low Earth-orbit satellites. Twyer has been given the vague responsibility of serving on a newly-created executive committee of Teledesic’s board. It seems that Twyer’s job was to get the company up and running over the past year-and-a-half, and now that things are heating up, Gates and McCaw have decided to take closer control over their dream project. A few weeks ago, Teledesic cleared its last significant regulatory hurdle when the International Telecommunications Union ruled that Teledesic could use the full chunk of radio spectrum necessary to offer its service (CI No 3,294). Steve Hooper, a longtime McCaw associate, has been nominated to join Teledesic’s board and will share the company’s CEO responsibilities with McCaw. Hooper is chairman of NextLink Communications Inc, another McCaw company, and will keep that job. Hooper had previously served as president and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless Services, formerly McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. Russell Daggatt, 42, will remain Teledesic’s president, a position he has held since October 1993. In March, Teledesic was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to build, launch and operate its satellite network (CI No 3,130). The Boeing Co was chosen in April as the prime contractor for the design, construction and launch of the network (CI No 3,152). Teledesic plans to begin service in late 2002.

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