A Call To Action On Carrier Services

The time is right to break into telecom

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For years, solution providers eschewed selling
telecom services because of the complexity of the services,
the difficulty in dealing with carriers’ byzantine
organizations and simply because the potential gains
weren’t worth the pain.

Those days are gone forever, and there is no turning
back. In a comprehensive special report this month
on carriers and the cloud, CRN’s Chad Berndtson
and Andrew Hickey take a look at the compelling
economic proposition for solution providers to add recurring revenue carrier
services in a cloud-dominated solution universe. In fact, the cloud computing
revolution has made it critical that all solution providers act as trusted advisers
recommending business-grade carrier services. In many cases, these services are
delivering higher profits than partners are making on hotly contested network
infrastructure upgrades.

Of course, crossing the carrier service divide is not going to be easy for solution
providers. And it is certainly not going to come easy for telecom service providers,
which are rushing into the market with reckless abandon to grab the hearts, minds
and, most importantly, the trusted customer relationships that solution providers
have built up over the years. The fact is customers are making big decisions on
carrier-grade services and are looking for solution providers to guide them and
make recommendations.

The carriers that are going to be successful are going to have to become easier
to do business with, more flexible on terms and conditions, and be adept at
building strong relationships in the sales trenches. To say there is a high level of
distrust between telecom carriers and solution providers is an understatement.
One solution provider CEO, who has navigated many treacherous business and
technology changes, said he sees the telecom providers both as potential partners
and as a threat to his business model.

What’s exciting is there are signs that telecom providers finally get it. There is a
lot of channel-savvy leadership moving from the network infrastructure world to
the carrier world, such as former Cisco vice president Nigel Williams, who is now
senior vice president, sales and strategic alliances, at Level 3 Communications.
Level 3’s channel program is winning rave reviews from partners.

Other carriers are also stepping up with programs that deserve a look, including
Comcast Business Services, Time-Warner Cable, Cablevision and Charter Business.
Meanwhile, giants that don’t have well-established channel programs are buying
them—witness Verizon acquiring Terremark and Century Link acquiring Savvis.
A day of reckoning is coming both for solution providers and vendors. There
will be new winners and losers. And those that don’t get with the telecom service
provider program and build long-lasting, mutually profitable relationships will
find themselves marginalized in the cloud era.

BACKTALK: Are you carrying a carrier badge? Contact Steve Burke at

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