Since the first cellular radio applications were filed at the FCC 30 years ago, Whitey Bluestein has been involved in more than 100 deals involving mobile applications and wireless services. As an advisor and principal, he has developed business plans, taken companies to market, negotiated company-making deals, and participated in IPOs, mergers, acquisitions and deals of all descriptions with brand name companies in the mobile space. Bluestein’s mobile experience and impact on the industry includes:
- As member of MCI’s Corporate Development group, Bluestein worked on the first round of cellular filings for the top 30 US markets. He then managed preparation and prosecution of cellular filings for 72 of the top 90 markets.
- He managed the nation’s first and, for some time, largest cellular resale operation, in Los Angeles, including an extensive agent distribution network.
- He developed, negotiated and managed more than 30 cellular joint ventures, all of which obtained stakes in cellular licenses in top markets.
- Bluestein developed and managed MCI’s nationwide paging partnership with American Express, Metromedia and Communication Industries.
- Bluestein negotiated the full-market settlement for the Minneapolis-St. Paul cellular license, prepared the initial business plan, negotiated operations and marketing agreements for the MCI-led partnership, which built the cellular system and launched service in a then-record seven months. He also negotiated a first-of-its-kind regulatory “cease-fire” with US West's New Vector unit, the other cellular licensee in Minneapolis, to speed competitive service to the Minneapolis and Denver markets that MCI was building.
- He was MCI’s sole negotiator in the cellular market settlements. His role and success in the negotiations and cellular market consolidation of 1984 is described in Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America, by James B. Murray (Perseus, 2001). Bluestein single-handedly assembled mobile assets which were later valued at $4 billion of a larger transaction.
- Bluestein returned to MCI at the request of the CEO in 1994 to lead the due diligence, and negotiate marketing and resale agreements for MCI’s then planned Nextel investment.
- Following a high-level strategy session, he developed the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO, architecture (before the term was coined) in 1996, prepared the service specification and negotiated several wholesale deals with mobile operators.
- Bluestein presented MCI’s mobile strategy, including the MVNO, to a joint meeting of the MCI and British Telecom board of directors, also attended by Rupert Murdoch and senior News Corp. executives, in 1996. Ten years later, BT launched its own MVNO, BT Mobile.
- He led and managed MCI’s investment in US AirWaves, a leading bidder in the FCC’s PCS C-Block spectrum auction, then sat on the Board of Directors and Auction Committee of the young company. When spectrum prices climbed to unsustainable levels in the auction, he made the tough decision to exit the auction.
- Following the conclusion of the PCS auction, Bluestein negotiated a ground-breaking airtime deal with spectrum winner NextWave. That agreement became the model for subsequent MCI deals with several network and service providers.
- As part of MCI’s wireless operation, he negotiated wholesale agreements with most of the nation’s wireless operators, including AT&T, Sprint, BellSouth, PacBell Mobile, VoiceStream, Frontier, Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, GTE, NYNEX and others. Based on these agreements, and the MVNO architecture Bluestein (and the engineers) developed, MCI launched the industry's first bundled wireless service in MCIone.
- When British Telecom was in the process of acquiring MCI, Bluestein led the MCI team on the global mobile strategy group for the two companies.
- At Visage Mobile, Bluestein developed key mobile operator relationships with Sprint, VZW and AT&T, and negotiated initial wholesale deals for ESPN, Disney and other MVNOs.
- In his strategic advisory practice, he:
- Developed strategy and negotiated distribution deals for the Jitterbug™ phone geared to seniors and those desiring simplicity.
- Negotiated wholesale service agreements for an Australian company entering the US market, and for an ethnic MVNO.
- Represented several MVNOs, and negotiated wholesale agreements with three US mobile network operators.
- Helped a company with a mobile imaging application develop a strategic relationship with Nokia, which put its app on high-end handsets.
- Helped a mobile software company which developed an application for managing chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma, win its first deal, with Kaiser Permanente, within 60 days of the first meeting. He then introduced the company to Qualcomm, which awarded them an innovation award and cash grant.
- Based on his deal experience, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel recommended Bluestein to several prospective wholesale customers.
- Bluestein maintains strong relationships with senior management at all of the leading US operators, many European and global mobile operators, as well as other mobile industry players.
- A European company seeking to do business in the US sought Bluestein out, telling him that they had asked 10 mobile experts in Europe whom they should use to expand their mobile business to the US, and “7 out of 10 recommended Whitey Bluestein,” according to the new client.
- An Australian company that built a successful mobile brand merchandising business hired Bluestein to bring the brand to the US, because in the founder's words, "There's only one person to go to in the US for mobile branding.”
- When a colleague and telecom industry veteran recommended Bluestein to a company that needed help with a mobile carrier contract, he said, “Whitey Bluestein has negotiated more wireless deals in his career than anyone in the US.”