Building Up A Channel Following-Pronto


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Pronto Networks wants to dominate the telecommunications and hospitality markets for back-end Wi-Fi infrastructure products. And Eric Dentler, director of business development at Pronto, harbors no illusions about how to do just that.

"If you have a hundred partners around the world, how do you get them to open up their sales pipelines? You trade them for leads," Dentler said. "And that's just what we are starting with right now--lead distribution. 'Here's some leads, let's make this happen.' "

Pronto's new PartnerPower Program has rolled out the red carpet to welcome new partners to its reseller roster. Partners that come on board will offer the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company's suite of Wi-Fi technology, a menu that includes Pronto's Aprisa hot-spot network appliance and carrier-grade Wi-Fi
operations support systems (OSS) software.

Aprisa gives solution providers and VARs an easy launching point into the Wi-Fi market, said Dentler. The OSS software--built from the ground up in Java--can add Wi-Fi and other wireless-oriented services to existing network systems.

"We feel we are entering the early mainstream in Wi-Fi hot spots," said Dentler. "So for Pronto, it's about getting to market and dominating markets. We want to have a huge channel around the world with no competing territory. We don't want more than two resellers in Dallas, for example. And if you want Dallas, you better be able to articulate your relationship with area companies [such as] EDS, Frito-Lay, etc."

Pronto is looking to add about 40 new partners in the United States and another 25 worldwide. "I'd like them by Christmas," Dentler added.

The company plans to protect its new partners as well, applying a combination of deal-registration initiatives and dollar-sign incentives for its direct-sales team to work through resellers."

"We'll supplement the direct-sales force by paying them 100 percent of what the channel sells. We'll pay double compensation," Dentler said. "And if another VAR swoops down and tries to close a deal that a partner who did work on the deal didn't close, then we will go to bat for the principal VAR who did the work."

 
Independent telcos, the hospitality sector have begun to see the value of Wi-Fi related services such as Pronto's.

Resellers interested in coming on board the PartnerPower Program don't necessarily need to have experience in wireless technology. "The ideal partner has demonstrated experience in networking, and that doesn't have to be wireless. You just have to be strong in your region or vertical," explained Dentler.

Lloyd Jernigan, president and CEO of 20/20 Diversified Services, an IT solution provider and PartnerPower Program participant in Houston, is already working on his company's first lead from Pronto. In fact, it was Pronto that performed the initial survey on the lead, parting the clouds for Jernigan and his team to begin work immediately. And Jernigan sees the work as only the beginning of a wave of Wi-Fi opportunities in a growing market for wireless mobility.

"Wireless is the fastest-growing technology that is out there," said Jernigan. "To be able to expand your IT network without running cables, that's where it's at."
Ed Ludtke, LAN and WAN product manager at Graybar, a telecommunications reseller and Pronto partner in St. Louis, agrees that the market for wireless hot spots is hitting a stride that should maintain momentum for some time to come. "Almost across the board we are being asked about wireless products, hot spots and Wi-Fi, and that led us to Pronto," Ludtke said.

A sweet spot for Graybar in the wireless market is the independent telcos, which increasingly are looking to add value to their voice services above and beyond services such as high-speed Internet, Ludtke said. The hospitality sector is also catching on to the benefits of Wi-Fi"an appetite that plays right into Pronto's hands.

Said Pronto's Dentler: "The hospitality market is really our low-hanging fruit."

Dentler explained that OSS for wireless traditionally has been "this gnarly back-end stuff that telcos spend years writing code for," due to complexities in service provisioning and access control. But by building its OSS completely in Java, Pronto has simplified the feat, allowing Wi-Fi-related services to be piled on.

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