Spectrum Business Touts Cloud Services Opportunities For Channel Partners Following Huge Cable Acquisitions

Spectrum Business, the business telecom and networking services branch of Charter Communications, wants solution providers to know that it is devoted to supporting both its legacy and newly-acquired channel partners via its full portfolio of solutions and dedicated resources.

Charter Spectrum is the combination of the two companies that Charter Communications acquired in 2016 – Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The two mega deals shot Charter from the fourth largest cable provider in the U.S. into the number two spot, right behind Philadelphia-based rival Comcast. The already-sizable partner program multiplied along with the cable giant's business services sales.

"As a strong number two cable provider, we need a support structure that lets us support all our partners nationwide," Todd Norris, senior marketing manager of alternate channels for Spectrum Business, told CRN.

[Related: Avant, Navisite Clear The Way For Partner Cloud Sales With New Microsoft Office 365 Opportunity]

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Since the completion of the mergers, Spectrum has been working on streamlining pricing on its coax-based internet services for small and midsized business customers, Norris said. The provider recently released Spectrum Business Pricing and Packaging, a nationwide standard for service levels and pricing for coax services that are also available through channel partners.

Spectrum offers a swath of resources and tools for its channel partner community, including its partner portal, Partner Link, and a co-branded site that partners can use to brand materials with their own information for customers. The provider offers training through its sales operations and marketing teams that are dedicated to partners. Spectrum also has a robust team of regional and national channel managers, Norris said.

Spectrum's acquisition of Time Warner Cable brought Navisite into the fold. The Andover, Mass.-based service provider that Time Warner Cable bought in 2011 offers a wide variety of managed, cloud-based, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions and that portfolio gives legacy Charter partners access to a new portfolio of services that they didn't have access to before, Norris said.

"We want to make sure our partners understand that we have the full bundle, and they can offer a more total solution that customers want without going to a different partner," he said.

The face of the channel partner is changing as more traditional VARs take a look at selling connectivity. This trend, Norris said, has been helped along by IT distributor ScanSource acquiring master agent Intelisys last year.

"Partners are trying new things, and we want to make sure we are on the same playing field with them but finding out what partners need in term of selling solutions," he said.

As such, Spectrum is in the process of re-evaluating its master agent relationships, as each separate company had their own, direct contracts with these providers. Norris said that Charter has "downsized" the list to include larger masters or those unique to Spectrum's market areas. These master agents will be driving more relationships with sub-agent partners, he said.

By partnering with master agents, Spectrum can streamline its partner focus while making doing business with Spectrum easier for the sub-agent partner base, Norris added.

Charter's legacy partner program had many similarities to the Time Warner Cable and Bright House partner contracts, and Spectrum is putting the finishing touches on its new partner agreement. However, existing Spectrum partners shouldn't expect any significant changes on the horizon in terms of their contracts, Norris said.

"We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel," Norris said. "We are taking what has worked for us in the past, and asking partners what we can do to enhance that."