GTA Chief Operating Officer Andrew Gayle understands all too well that consumers nowadays demand faster and faster connections. “You sell ‘em on speed, and keep ‘em on reliability,” he stressed. One way for GTA to do that is to extend its infrastructure out to the customer. “We’re putting fiber deeper into the neighborhood, and we’re shortening the length of the copper loop—instead of being 5,000 to 6,000 feet is now 2,000 feet long—so can put higher frequencies on there, and faster speeds—50 to 100 megabits of broadband speed, both downlink and then also uplink.”
For reliability, GTA is counting on an old staple, the landline, to supplement the increasingly dominant wireless business. “When you’re on a wireless network, you’re sharing that spectrum with somebody else. The name of the game in wireless is to be able to do more and more, with the same spectrum. Our strategy is to try to dedicate as much of the medium, of that last mile, to that specific customer, so that we’re not sharing that medium. It’s a way for us to guarantee a certain level of service,” Gayle said.
While speed is king now, one of the next big developments in the ever-evolving telecommunications industry is the rise of “the Internet of Things,” which in contrast won’t require fast speeds at all. Examples of IoT uses are smart refrigerators and smart washing machines.
“[The IoT consists of] a massive amount of devices that need on-line and always-on access, so you need to start to scale, not in terms of speed, but in the number of devices that you can support,” Gayle explained. BUSINESS INSIDER magazine noted in a recent issue that the number of connected devices is projected to triple in four years, from 10 billion last year to 34 billion in 2020.
For Gayle, the most challenging part of his job is “keeping up with the technology. It’s such a fast-moving industry.” He was first introduced to the business in 1999. His background was in computer technology, and he was hired as director of IT for Guamcell Communications (now DoCoMo Pacific). “I saw an opportunity to get into the telcom industry. I was hired by Mark Chamberlin, and I knew Jay Shedd (the company’s top executives), and I respected those guys. I learned a hell of a lot in the six years I was there.”
In 2005, Gayle got an offer from GTA to run its IT department, but he declined. Five months later GTA pitched him again to be the vice president and general manager of its wireless business. “I thought it was a real interesting opportunity to take it to that next level. Actually, it was a great opportunity, and I’m thankful to Bob Taylor, who was the CEO at the time. I was learning along the way, but I had a really good blueprint, you know, what I learned at Guamcell,” Gayle revealed.
At the time, GTA had just been privatized, being previously a government of Guam agency. In the wireless space, it was running fifth out of five carriers. “We had to come up with a strategy to compete, because we knew we didn’t have as robust a network as [the competition], at least to begin with. So we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to go after smartphones. We’re going to build out our network to be the fastest data network.’ I think it was a successful strategy. We were the first ones to bring Blackberry to Guam.”
The uptake and growth of the smartphone segment helped sustain their wireless business. But it wasn’t until a few years later that it really paid off. “In 2009 we were the first ones to bring iPhones to Guam,” Gayle said, adding that it was because his previous CEO had a personal connection to a fellow by the name of Steve Jobs. “What a lot of people don’t know is that GTA was the second U.S. carrier to have iPhone after AT&T. We got it before Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.”
The iPhone was a game changer, ”because now here was a product that our customers could use to really take advantage of the wireless network that we had built,” Gayle said. “[The business] just exploded.”
Gayle was promoted to his current job as COO in 2011, and now oversees a wide range of company operations. He relies a lot on “good industry partners, and I like to think I surround myself with a very talented team that keeps me abreast of the industry because they keep themselves abreast of the industry.”
Gayle lives in Tamuning with his wife Cait and their three children. He was born and raised in Guam. His mother is the former Maria Quitugua Concepcion from Piti, and his father is the late Andrew Gayle, Sr. who came to Guam in 1959, and was the longtime Legislative Legal Counsel, and one of the island’s most respected attorneys.
He graduated from Harvard with a degree in Computer, Electrical and Systems Engineering, and maintains close ties with the school and his classmates. “Harvard was a great education. It has a very extensive alumni network. There are Harvard clubs all over the place. So you could really take advantage of that.” But what has attending the prestigious institution done most for him over the years? “It’s a great icebreaker, something to talk about.”
But Gayle’s greatest influence has been his father, and credits him for stoking his competitive fire. The younger Gayle played football in high school, represented Guam in international swim meets, and is now an avid golfer who plays to a 9-handicap. “When I was growing up we would play cards, we’d play chess, we’d play racquetball, and when we were playing he didn’t take any prisoners, he didn’t hold any punches, at least not with me. Plus, he had a witty, sarcastic sense of humor.”
Many who knew his father see a lot of him in his only son. Gayle remembers a time after his dad passed away when he went to visit his uncle in Houston. “We were sitting there just chatting over dinner, and he looks at me and said, “God, you remind me so much of your father. That’s one of the greatest compliments people can tell me,” Gayle said proudly.
The Guamanian is the premier business-lifestyle magazine in the region.
Like us on Facebook for more exclusive content.