FORT MYERS, USA: James A. Dwyer, Jr., 73, a visionary and serial entrepreneur who was instrumental in launching the cellular telecommunications industry worldwide, passed away Friday evening at his home in Fort Myers, Florida, after an extended illness.
Born Dec. 31, 1936, in Woodside, Queens, New York City, he is survived by his wife, Nancy, as well as 12 children and 15 grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 11:00 am Eastern time, Thurs., Aug. 12, at Church of the Resurrection of our Lord in Fort Myers.
One of the founding fathers of the cellular business worldwide, Dwyer was a lawyer and salesman best known for starting early cellular systems in several top US markets and working with colleagues and competitors to build a strong base for the young industry. American Cellular Telephone Corp., the system he launched in Indianapolis on Feb. 3, 1984, was the third cellular system in the country and the first built from the ground up for commercial service. The first two systems had been in experimental trials for several years.
A courageous challenger to the status quo, Dwyer and his allies successfully convinced the FCC to allow independent paging operators and radio common carriers (RCCs) to build public cellular networks and compete with the monopoly wireline telephone company. At the time, many of these businesses were family-run operations licensed by the commission to provide private paging, answering, and early car telephone services.
The decision unleashed a historic wave of investment and competition in wireless telecommunications. Dwyer’s efforts were instrumental in creating today’s competitive wireless environment, and nearly 5 billion people around the globe are now cellular customers.
In 1998 Dwyer received the prestigious Sarnoff Citation from the Radio Club of America. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of electronic communications.