20 Telecom And Cable Companies That Get The IT Channel

Willing to Work

CRN asked dozens of stakeholders in the telecom channel over a three-month period, from VARs and agents to master agents and analysts, to identify who among the telecom and cable players has shown the most willingness to work with IT VARs at a program and support level. In our informal poll, we asked respondents to focus specifically on telecom service providers and cable companies instead of major names like Cisco or Avaya with already-well-established IT channel programs.

Here are the 20 supplier/provider names and programs -- not including master agent programs -- most frequently mentioned as being firmly in the channel's corner. The company descriptions appeared in CRN's 2012 Business Connectivity Partner Program Guide in September.

For a closer look at the relationship between VARs and telecom vendors, check out a preview of our special report on IT-telecom channel convergence, available exclusively on the CRN Tech News App.


CEO: Bryan R. Martin

8x8's Business Partner Program has grown by leaps and bounds following its 2011 revamp and 8x8's expanded cloud services portfolio. Partner recruitment has increased tenfold as 8x8 broadens its appeal for PBX resellers, MSPs, telecom agents and video providers interested in up-front bounty and recurring revenue channel compensation plans.


CEO: Jim Geiger

Cbeyond offers a number of channel partnership programs, including programs for consultants, systems integrators, VARs and interconnects, as well as PBX manufacturers that want to integrate with the company's BeyondVoice with SIPconnect offering. Thanks to a dedicated IP connection, Cbeyond still promises five-nines availability for its VoIP service and offers dedicated broadband and cloud services.


CEO: Glen F. Post, III

One of telecom's biggest wheels, CenturyLink has solidified its partner programs following its epic acquisition of Qwest Communications.The company also has invested in programs for cloud services business units such as Savvis, which unveiled a cloud ecosystem program.

Charter Business

CEO: Tom Rutledge

Like its cable company brethren, Charter now offers a competitive set of channel incentives for both agents and solution providers. The Agent Referral Program nets up to $5,000 per referral, while Charter's Business Channel Partner Program creates monthly recurring revenue streams.

Comcast Business Class

CEO: Brian Roberts

No other cable company has been more active around VAR/ telecom convergence than Comcast, whose year-and-a-half-old Comcast Business Class Partner Program has won over once-skeptical VARs and master agents in a short time. According to channel chief Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast's channel-order volume increased by a magnitude of 15 times over the previous year and has continued to expand following last September's launch of Metro Ethernet services.


CEO: Rolla Huff

EarthLink's strength, of late, has been to offer pre-prescribed bundled services through partners as a way to give customers the range of communications they need while letting the channel make the offers as custom as possible.

Integra Telecom

CEO: Kevin O'Hara

Integra offers a Premier Partner Agent Program, which includes a commission structure plus dedicated resources and co-branding/ marketing collateral, and a Referral Partner Program, through which partners receive referral fees for sending business Integra's way.

Level 3 Communications

CEO: James Q Crowe

Level 3's blockbuster acquisition of Global Crossing in 2011 meant a tricky channel program integration, but as of the end of last year, the programs had merged and former Level 3 sales vice president Michael Jerich had been named vice president, indirect channels. Level 3's Business Partner program awards solution providers channel-neutral compensation and training


CEO: Chris MacFarland

Masergy tweaked its partner program a year ago to offer more rewards to higher-classified partners more strategically aligned to the company. Not only has Masergy's channel partner revenue continued to climb, the company's also made waves with a recent acquisition of hosted UC player Broadcore Communications.


CEO: D. Craig Young

Longtime channel pal MegaPath this fall took a bigger leap into cloud services with a suite of cloud hosting offeringss, powered by VMware vCloud. Earlier this year, Megapath also retooled its partner portal to include capabilities such as enhanced order status tracking and customer support ticket tracking.


CEO: Boland T. Jones

PGi's generated a lot of buzz in the Web conferencing space and has strategic relationships with channel partners and A/V integrators such as AVI-SPL. It also has a significant agent program through which it offers commissions, customer and sales support and various training and partner incentive programs.

ShoreTel (M5 Networks)

CEO: Peter Blackmore

Following its February 2012 acquistion of hosted VoIP specialist M5 Networks, ShoreTel is full speed ahead as a cloud services provider under ShoreTel Sky, the rebranded M5 platform that ShoreTel is now offering to both traditional UC VAR solution providers and telecom agents.


CEO: Dave Gilbert

Beloved for its easy-to-grasp hosted VoIP, telephony and Microsoft cloud productivity application approach to the market, SimpleSignal is finally getting the industry accolades its loyal partners have been pushing for. It supports both agent/reseller and wholesale model partners.

Star2Star Communications

CEO: Norman Worthington

One of the more highly regarded channel programs of recent years is Star2Star's, which invites dealers and agents to sell both its VoIP service and communications systems in an integrated package deal. Among recent technology releases were a cloud-based faxing service, StarFax Personal, and new StarBox Internet Communications Appliances.


CEO: Richard Jalkut

TelePacific rolled out several new offerings heading into the fall, including the expansion of its SmartVoice PRI, SIP and business phone services to nationwide availability. Most exciting for TelePacific partners, however, is that it plans to launch a cloud-based PBX in the fourth quarter, to be delivered over its private network.

Thinking Phone Networks

CEO: Steven Kokinos

Thinking Phone's a small fry with some big buzz thanks to a UC-as-a-Service portfolio that offers VoIP, presence, messaging, mobility, video and contact center off a proprietary platform. Telecom industry veteran Rob Shelby recently joined as regional vice president, channel sales.

Time Warner Cable

CEO: Glenn Britt

Time Warner Cable Business Class was another cable company that saw the expanding VAR opportunity years ago. Its program is now four years old and is nearly one-third IT solution providers. Time Warner Cable offers aggressive commissions on IP data and voice communications to SMBs and enterprises.

tw telecom

CEO: Larissa Herda

tw telecom has one of the better-reviewed programs: a solid mix of product support and partner training, sales and marketing resources and solid commissions on top of its fiber network, IPVPN and Busi- ness Ethernet services. It recently launched Dynamic Capacity, a program through which customers can scale their Ethernet bandwidth and capacity across their network without service interruption.


CEO: Jeff Gardner

Windstream's December 2011 acquisition of Paetec included a colossal task as far as integrating a large channel community and keeping its processes and service delivery smooth for a combined customer base. There have been bumps along the way but Windstream has promised to keep its channel "business as usual."

XO Communications

CEO: Laura Thomas

XO this past summer rolled out a significantly revamped partner program behind the January launch of its new commissioning system. The new XO program includes five tiers, which at the entry level includes no revenue or sales requirements, and at higher levels include better commissions and more contract protection.

What About...Zayo?

CEO: Daniel Caruso

At least three of the sources CRN spoke to mentioned Zayo Group as not yet an established friend of the channel but as a supplier they're watching.

The five-year-old company looks to be empire-building, with acquisition after acquisition in addition to infrastructure build-outs aplenty in a short period of time. Zayo already cheered up the channel after it bought telecom powerhouse AboveNet and was quick to assure AboveNet partners that their compensation and customers would be preserved.