MCI Sews Up Channel Plans

The launch of the MCI Solution Provider Channel Program comes amid reports that either Qwest Communications or Verizon could buy the Ashburn, Va.-based telecom carrier.

"If I was Verizon or Qwest looking at MCI and [its] channel continues to grow and strengthen, yes, I think that makes MCI more attractive," said Scott Eaton, vice president of sales at MicroCorp, a master agent in Marietta, Ga.

When asked about the timing of the program launch, Todd Gerdes, senior vice president of MCI's solution provider channel, pointed to the company's desire to strengthen its SMB business, but he declined to comment on a possible acquisition.

"As the needs of [SMB] customers become more complex and as these [solution] providers become more ingrained and closely aligned with their customers, it's a natural fit for us to go out there and work with and partner with these agents and VARs to gain more business," Gerdes said.

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The program launch marks the culmination of changes to MCI's channel strategy that began six months ago, Gerdes said. In that time, MCI's channel sales volume has doubled, he said, noting that he expects channel sales to triple this year compared with six months ago.

The changes have included the deployment of 40 regional channel managers to help improve sales support in the field, a supplement to the 20 national channel managers that were already in place, he said.

The program splits MCI's partners into three volume-based categories: Solution Provider, Preferred Provider and Premier Provider. Commissions range from 15 percent to 20 percent depending on the partner level and the type of services sold.

The carrier also launched its first certification program for agents and resellers working MCI's strategic offerings, including its security, VoIP, hosting and managed network services. Partners that obtain the optional certifications and prerequisite training will receive an additional commission of about 3 percent on monthly recurring revenue.