Sprint Planning New Product Blitz for Channel Partners

In an interview at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo here, Don Green, senior director of distribution marketing for Sprint Business Marketing, said among the areas Sprint is looking to add new products are security services, IP services and managed network services.

"By the end of this year, you are going to [see us] have a full line of data products to be able to cover the needs of any customer out there," Green said. "We'll also see some additional voice products."

Green said Sprint's plan is to offer "a wider suite of products in the indirect channel than any of our competitors." This channel is extremely important to Sprint, he said. In fact, he said Sprint is in the midst of aggressive partner recruitment.

"I believe there is a huge future in the indirect channel and that Sprint can drive that," Green said. "We are seeing substantial growth in this channel and at a higher rate than we see in some of our other channels. And I think we are going to continue to see that."

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In other product news, Green responded to competitor Verizon's recent release of a packaged offering of voice and data services with plans for Sprint to move in that direction. "Look forward to that in the future," he said. "I'm not going to give any timing or details on it because, unfortunately, these things change. And with the new CEO it may change rapidly."

Sprint finally won a legal battle with BellSouth earlier this month to hire Gary Forsee as its new CEO. Forsee replaced longstanding CEO William Esrey.

On the downside, Green said the telecom industry has still not recovered from bankruptcy filings in the past two years by WorldCom and other carriers.

"The biggest issue right now is we have seen a marked slowdown in the willingness of customers to sign contracts," Green said. "Most of their budgets are tight, they've put signing on hold as long as possible. A lot of forecasts you have seen on new products and services [growth] are probably not going to be met. I think it's going to get tougher and tougher until the economy turns around."

Once the economy does rebound, however, Green said, he predicts a period of explosive growth for the telecom industry.