Nextel Communications promoted Thomas N. Kelly Jr. to chief operating officer, replacing James F. Mooney, who left the wireless phone company in September after only 18 months.

Kelly, 55, was formerly Nextel's chief marketing officer and joined the Reston-based company in 1996, when it was a smaller wireless company and had 400,000 customers for its walkie-talkie-like service. Now Nextel has more than 10 million subscribers and is the nation's fifth-largest carrier.

Before working at Nextel, Kelly was vice president of marketing for AT&T Wireless. Terms of Kelly's contract will be disclosed in the company's proxy statement, which will be filed in the spring, Nextel spokeswoman Audrey Schaefer said.

THE DISTRICT

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, a California-based law firm, plans to open a 10-lawyer office in Washington this week. The move is the first time the 350-lawyer firm has stepped outside of California, said Chairman Guy N. Halgren. Sheppard Mullin's D.C. office will focus on corporate and real estate law and litigation. Firm managers plan to build the office rapidly by hiring regulatory and government contract lawyers, Halgren said.

MARYLAND

NexTone Communications of Germantown named Hank Firey chief executive. He will replace the telecom software company's founder, Raj Sharma. Sharma will remain as president and director of the company, which is privately held and employs 30. NexTone makes software that helps telecommunications carriers handle phone calls transmitted over an Internet network. The company has received $18 million in venture funding.

Acterna, a Germantown maker of telecommunications equipment, lost $16.2 million (8 cents a share) on revenue of $202.7 million in its fiscal third quarter. The company lost $74 million (39 cents) on revenue of $233.3 million in the year-earlier period. Acterna, which primarily sells telecommunications-network testing devices, has been struggling because its customers have cut spending, causing sales to decline. Acterna reduced its workforce to save costs. It had 3,217 employees as of Dec. 31, down from about 4,875 at the end of 2001.

Allegheny Energy, a Hagerstown utility owner seeking to refinance debt to avert bankruptcy, said banks for a sixth time granted default waivers that will provide more time for negotiations. Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and other lenders extended waivers on loan defaults to Feb. 21 from Friday, Allegheny said in a statement. The company is trying to refinance at least $1.3 billion in loans.

VIRGINIA

AES completed the sale of two Australian generation businesses for about $173 million as the energy company continues to shed non-strategic assets. Arlington-based AES said it received net proceeds of $59 million from the sale.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers