Give Gary D. Forsee credit for his vision. After taking the reins at Sprint Corp. (FON) in March, 2003, he recognized that for his company to excel in the sluggish telecom sector, it would have to jettison its image as a long-distance provider. So Forsee combined Sprint's wireless and wireline businesses to create a company that could provide everything from cellular to local phone service. Then, buoyed by a stock that had soared 50% from a year earlier, Forsee agreed to a $35 billion merger with Nextel Communications Inc. in December. He'll serve as CEO of the combined Sprint Nextel.
Forsee's telecom giant will have the heft to battle Cingular Wireless LLC and Verizon Wireless and the means to forge the broadband future. Sprint was already partly there, thanks to forsee. He struck deals to let Virgin Mobile Telecoms LTD., AT&T (T), and others lease Sprint's wireless network so they could market services that would compete with Sprint's own offerings. Radical? Maybe, but it got Sprint 3 million new users. And he teamed with cable operators to deliver residential phone service, giving Sprint access to 95% of U.S. households that have phones. That's Forsee -- always willing to break with convention to win.