Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America

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9780738203911: Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America

The wireless industry was built by a motley band of characters who, from the beginning, have fought unrelentingly against one another for a cut of the business. It's a surprising history full of winners, losers, and lucky first-time entrepreneurs who made millions.Wireless Nation chronicles the unique genesis of the wireless industry in America and the protagonists who brought it to life. In the mix is the inimitable Seattle entrepreneur Craig McCaw; John Kluge of Metromedia, whose deft trading in cellular properties made him the richest man in America; and also Norma Rea, the unassuming Detroit secretary whose bizarre wireless bid was tainted by scandal and a battle with a powerful newspaper chain. Murray tells the story as only an insider can, detailing the incredible circumstances that shaped and defined the coming century's most promising business. It is a must-read for anyone interested in new technology and the American business landscape.

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Review:

It may be hard to remember now, but until just a few years ago only an elite few could even hope to obtain a mobile phone--and the service they got, if they were fortunate enough to get any, was both technically mediocre and inordinately expensive.

That all changed in the 1980s, of course, when cellular technology began moving from experimental to ubiquitous and those clunky early car phones went the way of the Model T and telephone operator. The subsequent rush to wireless has been one of the most dynamic business stories of our time, and James B. Murray Jr. does a fine job of running it down and sorting it out in Wireless Nation.

The negotiator of some of the industry's biggest deals as chairman and managing director of Columbia Capital, Murray has had firsthand access to most of the major players in the ongoing saga, and his book benefits tremendously from the insider's perspective that these connections helped forge. It also benefits from his novelist's eye, which virtually puts readers into the center of the action with big-time participants like McCaw Cellular's Craig McCaw as well as "regular folks" like a middle-aged truck driver named Bob Pelissier who snagged one of the country's first cellular licenses.

Moving effortlessly from Newfoundland to New York and Washington state to Washington, D.C., Murray deftly chronicles the emergence of the cell phone as a worldwide business and societal phenomenon. He also offers informed speculation on its future, as emergent wireless Internet connections promise to make current technology and consumer penetration look as quaint as a black dial telephone. --Howard Rothman

About the Author:

James B. Murray, Jr. was an early investor in and broker of cellular telephone licenses. In his two decades of involvement in wireless, Mr. Murray has done deals with hundreds of industry players, from the biggest carriers down to the "little people" who won licenses in the FCC lotteries. A co-founder of Columbia Capital Corporation, a venture capital firm now managing assets in excess of $1.5 billion, Mr. Murray currently runs Court Square Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in telecommunications and information technology investments. The father of two children, he lives with his wife of 32 years on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia.

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James B. Murray Jr., John Sidgmore
Published by Basic Books (2001)
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