Windstream CEO Jeff Gardner
Image by Jason Burt

Windstream CEO Jeff Gardner uses the BlackBerry Bold 9700 on AT&T's network. He describes himself as a "Blackberry guy" who relies on the device, and not a laptop, when he travels.

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Allied Wireless Communications CEO Frank O'Mara
Image by Michael Baxley

Allied Wireless Communications CEO Frank O'Mara uses the Motorola Driod on Verizon's network. But he's used a variety of devices in the past. He says the BlackBerry changed his work productivity.

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Acxiom CEO John Meyer
Image by Acxiom Corp.

Acxiom CEO John Meyer is a BlackBerry user. He loves the look and feel of the iPhone, but says Apple has not provided the corporate-level security needed for his business.

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Verizon Wireless South-Central Region President Steve Smith
Image by Jason Burt

Verizon Wireless South-Central Region President Steve Smith uses the Motorola Droid X on, you guessed it, the Verizon network. He says the connectivity such devices allow has "fundamentally" changed how he works.

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Rockfish Interactive CEO Kenny Tomlin
Image by Rockfish Interactive

Rockfish Interactive CEO Kenny Tomlin uses the new Apple iPhone 4 on the AT&T network. He said he's had a "bit" of reception issues with the device, but "nothing too bad."

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Arkansas Business this week examines the telecommunications industry, including how companies are adjusting to the security and privacy concerns raised by the widespread use of smartphones like BlackBerries, iPhones and Andriod devices.

In his reporting for the cover story, reporter Robert Bell also took the chance to ask some of the state's top tech CEOs and executives what phones they use and what affect those devices have had on their productivity.

Here's what they had to say:

Jeff Gardner, CEO and president of Windstream Corp.:

Q: What type of cell phone do you use and why?
A: I use a BlackBerry Bold 9700 because I travel a lot and text a lot, and this device is very easy for me to use to type messages.

Q: Are you loyal to a brand or type of phone, or have you switched?
A: I've always been a BlackBerry guy. Years ago, I used to have to carry my laptop with me when I travel. Today, I just carry my BlackBerry. 

Q: If you use a smart phone, how has it changed your work life?
A: I think there's good and bad with it. Obviously it allows me, even when I'm traveling anywhere in the world, to stay in touch.

Q: Has the change been good, bad or a mix of both?
A: As a downside, sometimes it can be a little distracting. I try to balance that, but in jobs like ours it's hard to do, to be honest.

Q: What network do you use and why?
A: Our procurement group negotiated an arrangement with AT&T, and we've been with AT&T wireless for the last year.

Frank O'Mara, CEO of Allied Wireless Communications Corp.:

Q: What type of cell phone do you use and why?
A: Motorola Droid. I like the Android operating system and the haptics [touch screen] experience.   

Q: Are you loyal to a brand or type of phone, or have you switched?
A: I frequently change devices and was most recently using an HTC Hero and before that a BlackBerry 8830 World Phone.

Q: If you use a smart phone, how has it changed your work life?
A: BlackBerry changed my work productivity because of the instant accessibility to e-mail and the ability to view documents. The Android experience has added an exceptional browsing element.

Q: Has the change been good, bad or a mix of both?
A: The beginning and end to each day has gotten rather blurry.

Q: What network do you use and why?
A: Verizon Wireless, because I believe the Alltel network they acquired in Arkansas had the strongest performance.

John Meyer, CEO and president of Acxiom Corp.:

Q: What type of cell phone do you use and why?
A: I am a BlackBerry user, but I would not say loyal.

Q: Are you loyal to a brand or type of phone, or have you switched?
A: If there was something that satisfies my needs better, I would switch. BlackBerry interfaces with both Acxiom corporate and my personal e-mails, so I am always in touch. I love the iPhone look and feel, but Apple has not provided the corporate-level security needed for our business. Privacy is a very important issue to Acxiom, and we would not risk that to use one device or another. We have had direct conversations with Apple over that issue. 
 
Q: Has the change been good, bad or a mix of both?
A: You must have the discipline with a smart phone or BlackBerry to put it down and walk away. Otherwise, you are always reacting to the messages and not taking the time to think strategically.
 
Steve Smith, president, south-central region, for Verizon Wireless:

Q: What type of cell phone do you use and why?
A: Today, what I use as my primary device is our Motorola Droid X. The device is the absolute best all-in-one phone that I've ever used.

Q: Are you loyal to a brand or type of phone, or have you switched?
A: I switch pretty often and usually carry multiple devices. Right now, I'm carrying the Motorola Droid X and the HTC Incredible. I carry everything to make sure I can help our employees and customers understand the devices.

Q: If you use a smart phone, how has it changed your work life?
A: I've been using a smart phone for at least six years. It's changed my work life in some pretty fundamental ways. It gives me the flexibility to stay in contact, to receive and to share important information any place at any time.

Q: Has the change been good, bad or a mix of both?
A: It's really been a positive. You're not chained to your PC.

Q: What network do you use and why?
A: I use Verizon Wireless, because we've got the best network in the state of Arkansas.

Kenny Tomlin, CEO of Rockfish Interactive:

Q: What type of cell phone do you use and why?
A: IPhone 4. The broad range of apps keeps me connected and productive on the road. 

Q: Are you loyal to a brand or type of phone, or have you switched?
A: Not really. I've been with the iPhone since the first version but am watching Android phones closely.

Q: If you use a smart phone, how has it changed your work life?
A: I do feel more productive with my smart phone, especially since I'm traveling for work now more than half of the time.

Q: Has the change been good, bad or a mix of both?
A: Primarily good. Always connected equals always working. That suits my personality well, but can easily get out of control. 

Q: What network do you use and why? 
A: AT&T. It's the only option currently for the iPhone.

Q: Any reception issues with the iPhone 4?
A: A bit, but nothing too bad.