CenturyLink Channel Leader Wants Channel To Become Fastest Growing Unit

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CenturyLink plans to use the channel as one of its fastest routes to growth, but channel integration has to make sense and be done methodically, according to Lisa Miller, CenturyLink’s president of wholesale, indirect channels and alliances.

Miller explained to partners at master agent PlanetOne's Tech Tour event that the company will put a governance board in place for channel integration purposes. That committee will evaluate all renewal opportunities and help protect partners from being removed from a deal, while at the same time, ensuring that CenturyLink's direct sales side isn't being slowed down.

"There will be no change in how we engage with channel partners from now until the end of the year. Next year, we'll have dedicated teams ... and we will resource the channel appropriately. We want the channel to be an investment," Miller told an audience of solution providers the same day that the company reported disappointing third-quarter earnings.

[Related: CenturyLink Gets FCC Approval To Buy Level 3, Partners 'Anxious' About Possible Channel Changes]

CenturyLink blamed its weak financial results during the third quarter on lower-than-anticipated growth in enterprise revenues. "For the third quarter, we came in at approximately $65 million below our internal expectations for enterprise revenue," CenturyLink's CEO Glen Post explained during the carrier's Q3 earnings call on Wednesday evening.

Enterprise revenues declined 11.2 percent to $2.17 billion in Q3 2017 from $2.44 billion in the year ago quarter, which the carrier attributed to revenue reduction associated with the sale of its co-location business, as well as the decline in legacy and data integration revenues, according to Stewart Ewing, CenturyLink's chief financial officer.

Legacy revenues for the segment declined 9.4 percent in Q3 2017 compared to Q3 2016, due primarily to the continuing decline in voice and low-bandwidth data services, CenturyLink said.

Post said that CenturyLink also generated about $20 million less growth in high-bandwidth data services than it had expected.

CenturyLink's enterprise strategic services unit, which includes high-bandwidth data services, managed services, and SD-WAN packages, saw revenues that fell to $949 million in the quarter, compared to $1.08 billion in the year-ago quarter.

At the top of the call, Post welcomed Level 3 Communications' former president and CEO Jeff Storey to the company. Storey is now serving as the chief operating officer for CenturyLink and will become CEO of the newly-combined company after Post retires in 2019.

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