Partners See Pitfalls In SBC-AT&T Deal

Emmet Tydings, president of AB&T Telecom, a master agent in Gaithersburg, Md., said he is concerned that the deal might throw his relationship with ACC Business, AT&T's channel sub-brand, in jeopardy.

"SBC is not known to most of the master agents," Tydings said. Generally, RBOC agent programs are more stringent and accept fewer partners than those of inter-exchange carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and MCI, he said.

Quy Nguyen, CEO of Allyance Communications, Irvine, Calif., said mergers and acquisitions always cause "hiccups" in channel business. However, the confusion gives partners an opportunity to work more closely with customers to allay concerns, he added.

Published reports last week revealed that AT&T and SBC were in talks for local telecom provider SBC to purchase the long-distance carrier for at least $15 billion. The deal would mark the end of the road for AT&T, Bedminster, N.J., from which SBC and other Baby Bells spun off when the Federal Communications Commission broke up Ma Bell in 1984. Neither San Antonio-based SBC nor AT&T has a stellar reputation with the channel, solution providers said.

Sponsored post

AT&T, in particular, infuriated agents last year when it changed compensation plans and canceled more than 500 agent contracts, a move partners said was likely made to make it more attractive for purchase by an RBOC.

One large AT&T reseller in the South who asked not to be named characterized the possible deal as taking "two problems and putting them together" for the channel. SBC has been struggling with how to manage the channel programs of companies it acquired on its way to becoming the second-largest telecom provider behind Verizon, he said. "If they're smart they will hire someone to come in and manage their channels [after the merger]," he said.