T-Mobile’s public policy staff gears up for transition

Changes are afoot in T-Mobile’s Public Policy and Government Affairs department, with wireless industry veteran Kathleen O’Brien Ham retiring in October and Edward “Smitty” Smith joining Team Magenta upon her departure.

Ham worked at the FCC’s wireless division in the industry’s infancy and helped craft the rules of the road, including how auctions were used to award spectrum licenses. She was the first chief of the FCC’s Spectrum Auctions Program, where she was responsible for the FCC’s first PCS spectrum auctions. She was named multiple times to Fierce’s list of most influential women in wireless.

“My career in public policy, law and telecom has been an amazing 40-year journey that has included experience on Capitol Hill working for House and Senate members, the law firm of Akin Gump, the Federal Communications Commission in leadership roles that enabled me to help shape the regulatory beginnings of the wireless industry,” she wrote in a LinkedIn message on Thursday.

She joined T-Mobile nearly 20 years ago. In more recent years, she led a team of government affairs professionals that spent about two years going through the approval process to get the Sprint/T-Mobile merger through. That deal gave T-Mobile a boatload of mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum and helped propel its 5G network leadership status.

Ham said she’s not so much “retiring” as she is “rewiring” and looking forward to the next chapter, which will include “lots of time with grandchildren!”

Smitty gets new role

Smith, better known as “Smitty” in D.C. circles, will join T-Mobile from DLA Piper, where he has been the U.S. and Global Chair of the firm’s Regulatory and Government Affairs practice since 2021.

Before that, he built up a resume that includes stints at the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). At the FCC, he was a legal advisor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Smith also was chief of staff and senior counsel of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, the massive spectrum reallocation project that freed up 600 MHz broadcast spectrum for wireless.

Interestingly, in 2014, Smith ran in the first-ever race for Attorney General of the District of Columbia and was the youngest candidate in the race. According to his Wikipedia page, he made the announcement of his candidacy at the former home of his grandmother in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. Smith came in second in that race.

In his role at T-Mobile, he will report to Mark Nelson, T-Mobile’s EVP and general counsel, and remain based in Washington, D.C., according to a T-Mobile spokesperson.