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AT&T 5G A Reality For Partners As Carrier Restructures Alliance Channel, ACC Business

‘There were too many channel managers from AT&T calling partners. Partners were a little confused with who they were supposed to go to for what,’ Stacey Marx, senior vice president and channel chief, AT&T Partner Solutions, tells CRN.

AT&T is rolling out new products and services within AT&T Partner Solutions to support the growth of 5G while realigning its AT&T Alliance Channel and ACC Business sales teams.

The Dallas-based carrier in April 2018 revealed that it was bringing its three separate channel models -- AT&T Partner Exchange, ACC Business and AT&T Alliance Channel -- under one channel program. Now, AT&T is merging the sales and support teams for ACC Business and Alliance Channel to simplify operations for partners, AT&T announced Monday at its 2019 Partner Fusion event.

"There were too many channel managers from AT&T calling partners. Partners were a little confused with who they were supposed to go to for what," Stacey Marx, senior vice president and channel chief, AT&T Partner Solutions, told CRN. "We re-aligned to now have one team and from a partner perspective, they have one hand to shake."

Though the program's sales teams are now combined, there are separate teams for master agent partners and agent partners because the groups go to market so differently, Marx said. The same leadership partners have come to know well will also still be in the mix; Christopher Jones, associate vice president of channel sales, is leading AT&T's master agent segment, J.D. Baker, associate vice president of channel sales, will be handing East coast-based agents for both the Alliance Channel and ACC Business and Jeff Quinn, associate vice president of channel sales, will be in charge of agents on the Central and West coast for both the Alliance Channel and ACC Business.

[Related: Channel Partners Applaud Elliott Management's Proposed AT&T Shakeup]

On the technology side, AT&T is laying the groundwork for partners to start taking advantage of 5G through three pillars: mobile 5G, fixed wireless and edge compute. 

In mobile 5G, AT&T partners can now offer Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphones on the AT&T 5G+ Millimeter Wave network. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is available to both AT&T Partner Exchange and

AT&T Alliance Channel partners. The carrier will also offer 5G capable smartphones that can access the AT&T 5G low band (sub-6) network it will roll out nationwide in the first half of 2020. Business customers will need a 5G-enabled rate plan to access this low band 5G service, AT&T said.

In the edge computing space, business customers have already been implementing AT&T Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) solutions for edge processing in pilot deployments as well as some commercial production, and AT&T is now opening that up for partners. AT&T MEC gives end users better privacy and control at the edge of their networks, Marx said.

Fixed wireless or AT&T's wireless fixed broadband, a stepping stone to fixed 5G for partners, Marx said. Fixed wireless is still working on 4g LTE technology and it’s a good network alternative for business-critical applications that can be deployed quickly for new and remote locations.

Partners across all of AT&T's channel segments -- Partner Exchange, Alliance Channel, and ACC Business -- can start taking advantage of AT&T 5G, Marx said.

AT&T is currently offering 5G services to mobile customers in parts of 21 cities across the U.S., including Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; and California cities Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. The carrier's CEO Randall Stephenson in July said that AT&T is on track for nationwide 5G coverage in the first half of 2020.

AT&T is in the midst of a "collaboration" with activist investor Elliot Management after the firm called for AT&T to return to its core telecom roots and stop making large acquisitions. CEO Stephenson said he will be staying on through at least 2020 as AT&T reviews its portfolio. However, the carrier will remain channel-friendly and committed to partners, Marx said.

Anne Chow, AT&T's former president of National Business, was named CEO of AT&T Business in September. "Indirect now has a seat at the big table with her. The channel, frankly, has never had that level of shining bring light on it and partners are excited about that," Marx said.

Marx started leading the channel for AT&T in April when Zee Hussain, the carrier's former channel chief, moved into the role of senior vice president of global business for AT&T.

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