D'Agata's departure will leave void at Sprint

When Tony D'Agata, the vice president of federal sales at Sprint, leaves the company, the federal telecom market will feel the absence, according to industry watchers.

"Tony was a real gentleman," said Warren Suss, president at Suss Consulting Inc. "Tony had a calm disposition and always treated people in the industry with great dignity and respect. I think it's the tone we'll remember as much as anything. He treats people well and that's going to be remembered in an industry that's often a dogfight."

D'Agata plans to retire from the company at the end of March, although he has not specified a precise date. For the next few weeks he and his colleagues will be reassigning many of his duties ? some of which were beyond the federal business ? to make the transition as smooth as possible.

D'Agata said that although he would like to keep his hand in the market, by serving on company boards or doing part-time consulting, he intends to go into at least semi-retirement.

"I've worked in this business for a lot of years," he said. "I had shared with my leadership for some time that I would be retiring. They didn't want me to leave, but there comes a time in your life when it makes sense to pack it in."

D'Agata has worked in the telecommunications industry for 39 years, the last eight of them with Sprint.

The company suffered a major setback last year when the General Services Administration chose not to award it a place on Networx Universal, the sweeping governmentwide network services contract that will replace FTS 2001 over the next two years. Sprint did win a spot on Networx Enterprise, a smaller, companion contract.

In 2005, Sprint Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., acquired Nextel Communications Inc. of Reston, Va., changing the combined company's name to Sprint Nextel. It settled its executive headquarters in Reston, leaving its operational headquarters in Overland Park.

D'Agata said wireless is where his successor will find the greatest growth opportunity. In 2007, the company's federal wireless business grew 27 percent compared to 2006, the company said.

"The wireline business is all about IP services," he said. "The business in general is flat to declining. It's not a growth environment. The wireless business is still a growth environment. That's where the opportunity is for federal telecommunications players."

The voice market is saturated, he said, but "in the wireless data world, we're barely scratching the surface."

Suss said the failure to win Networx Universal was "a real blow" to the company. Whomever Sprint chooses to follow D'Agata faces significant challenges, he said.

"It's a real niche market with very niche customer requirements and a lot of specialized characteristics," he said. "People like Tony who know how to navigate these waters are hard to find. The reason they stick around is they have some valuable understanding that's not generally available."

Sprint-Nextel ranks No. 29 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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