Sykes Requests a bigger challenge

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Outspoken Request Broadband CEO Phil Sykes has resigned, citing reasons resulting from the company’s acquisition by PowerTel in March.

Outspoken CEO Phil Sykes has resigned from services provider Request Broadband, citing reasons resulting from the company's acquisition by PowerTel in March.

Sykes said he had been offered the role of chief operating officer of the new, combined company but had declined.

“The proposed role was a significant reduction in scope, compared to my Request role, and [the role] required me to initially spend a large part of every week in Sydney, then re-locate,” he wrote in an email to colleagues.

He leaves Request today, Friday 30 April. No replacement had yet been appointed.

Sykes told CRN he was in discussions with several other potential employers but would not reveal more detail beyond saying it would “probably” be within the same industry.

He said that he had wanted more of a challenge. “The role and scope at Request has changed significantly and I really have a lot more to offer,” he said.

Sykes said he was disappointed but also had plenty of reasons to be pleased with his four years at Request.

“We had achieved all the goals we had set ourselves and the company was sold for more than shareholders put in and there are not many telcos that have achieved that,” he said. “It's been a tremendous experience and the company has been fantastic.”

Sykes said in his email that the team at Request had created a successful broadband IP networking company from a zero base in tough times, including raising $50 million to build the business and selling it at a “healthy premium”.

“We built a national broadband IP network, developed a range of new broadband IP products and created a very effective channel sales model to get our services to the SMB market.  Request had been EBITDA positive since March 2003 and with no debt,” he wrote.

However, he said he was leaving on the cusp of some exciting developments in broadband. Bigger gains would be made by those prepared to invest in services provision, he said.

People had harped on too much about a lack of infrastructure, Sykes said.

“The infrastructure is there,” he said. “There's a lack of services investment -- that provides opportunities for people like me.”

VoIP, for example, was raring to go but providers still needed to work on developing and deploying a good business model for such services, Sykes said.

“The big challenge is how do you make money? Those giving access aren't making much money at all,” he said. “Everyone has broadband access, even if it's very slow you can still carry one or two voice services over it.”

Regional areas did still have access problems but in general the infrastructure was there, he maintained.

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