Comcast Partners: Time Warner Deal To Create Industry 'Powerhouse'


Partners Thursday said Comcast's proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable would create a new channel "powerhouse" with impressive telecom and cloud assets and a combined, more robust offering for IT solution providers.

The deal, according to partners, also has the potential to reshape the competitive landscape, creating an $87 billion industry giant with more financial muscle and a broader geographic footprint to compete against rivals including $129 billion AT&T and $120 billion Verizon.

"We think it's a really good move by Comcast," said Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation at Intelisys, a Petaluma, Calif.-based Comcast and Time Warner master agent. "Both Comcast and Time Warner Cable have demonstrated a very strong commitment to the channel over the past few years, and we have seen explosive growth with both those companies and continue to forecast that moving forward."

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Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner, expected to close by the end of 2014, would combine the U.S.' two largest cable providers and bring Comcast's subscriber base to 30 million users. It's a deal that's likely to be scrutinized by federal regulators, but Comcast has already said it's willing to divest 3 million Time Warner subscribers to help overcome any regulatory hurdles and keep its market share below 30 percent.

If approved, the merger would also come as the traditional IT and telecom channels continue to converge and solution providers face more pressure than ever to embrace cloud services and the recurring revenue model. Pryfogle said 56 percent of the new partners Intelisys signed on last year -- or 246 of them -- were VARs.

Meanwhile, both Comcast and Time Warner have earned a reputation in the channel as telco companies committed to helping IT solution providers embrace the cloud computing and carrier services markets. Both companies, in fact, earned a 2013 CRN Channel Champions award for their Business Class services programs.

Pryfogle said that one of the biggest advantages afforded to Comcast partners through the deal would be access to Time Warner's robust cloud portfolio, which grew significantly through the company's $230 million acquisition of cloud hosting provider NaviSite in 2011.  

"[Time Warner] is really, in our portfolio, a leader in cloud infrastructure," Pryfogle said. "It's a really bold move by Comcast as not just an expansion of their cable or fiber footprint -- although that's great, too -- but it's also a really strong move into the cloud."

Pryfogle said Comcast is Intelisys' fastest-growing supplier partner, and that Intelisys recently hit a $2 million milestone in monthly recurring revenue with its Comcast sales.

Ken Mercer, vice president at Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), a Chicago-based master agent, also said Comcast is his company's fastest-growing supplier partner.

"Comcast has just been a huge supporter of the channel and has been the fastest growing carrier we've ever brought on board," Mercer said. "So if [Comcast and Time Warner] get together, it would be a powerhouse, and it would be wonderful for us. We have very high volume with both of them."

CRN reached out to Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of Indirect Channels at Comcast Business, and Brian Snortheim, director of indirect channel marketing at Time Warner Cable, but both declined to comment for this story.

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