Published: Jul 29, 2014 1:00:00 PM
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Samuel Ginn, wireless communications industry leader and namesake for Auburn University’s College of Engineering, has been named to the Wireless Hall of Fame Class of 2014 by the Wireless History Foundation (WHF). He is one of four individuals being honored for his outstanding achievement across all disciples of the wireless industry.
“The selection committee easily recognized that these inductees have all made unique, personal and important contributions in selecting them for the Wireless Hall of Fame,” said WHF Board member Rob Mechaley, CEO of Mobilesphere Holdings, and chairman of the 2014 selection committee. “They exemplify the breadth and depth of wireless contributions to the economy, technology, safety and society.”
With more than four decades of telecommunications experience, Ginn’s leadership and vision changed the course of the wireless industry. Following his service with the Army Signal Corps, he began his career with AT&T in 1960. He rose through the ranks and by 1977 was appointed vice president of network operations for AT&T Long Lines.
In 1978, Ginn joined Pacific Telephone Group as vice president. He reshaped the company through diversification and an aggressive drive to build the nation’s largest cellular phone business. In the early 1990s he engineered the spinoff of the Pacific Telesis Group’s wireless assets and launched AirTouch Communications, an early pioneer in the cellular industry.
AirTouch merged later in the decade with United Kingdom-based Vodafone Group, where Ginn assumed the position of chairman. During his tenure, Vodafone merged with Verizon to create Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States. Ginn retired in 2000 and has continued to serve as an investor and advisor to corporations, charities and higher education.
In 2012, Ginn was appointed as the first chairman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. FirstNet is charged with deploying a nationwide broadband wireless network dedicated to public safety to improve first responders’ ability to react to public emergencies.
A 1959 graduate of Auburn University's College of Engineering, Ginn was awarded an honorary doctorate by Auburn in 1998 and served on the university’s board of trustees from 2005-2013. He was instrumental in Auburn’s launch of its wireless engineering degree program and continues his involvement with the institution through its wireless advisory board. As part of its philanthropic activities, the Ginn Family Foundation supports merit scholarships within the college. Ginn was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 1992.
The inductees will be honored at the Wireless History Foundation’s Hall of Fame awards dinner on Sept. 9 in Las Vegas. Only forty individuals have been inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame through 2013.