Channel Chief Catchup: Telecom Execs Reveal The Hottest Opportunities For Partners

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From opportunities around emerging technology, to partner program changes and indirect sales leadership shakeups, no one can accuse the telecom industry of sitting still this fall.

CRN caught up with channel leaders from AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast and Verizon. Each weighed in on the most exciting new technologies available through their channel partners, program updates, and what partners should be on the lookout for right now.

Here's a snippet of what each of the four channel leaders had on their mind.


Kevin Leonard, vice president of AT&T's Alliance channel program, discussed the mobility opportunities for partners.

"We are very complementary to the AT&T Partner Exchange program, but a little different for us is the fact that we've been in the mobility space for years now -- we introduced it to the channel about seven years ago. In 2017, over 75 percent of our solution providers are selling integrated solutions -- wireline and mobility … it's always about the next solution set, and the next evolution is IoT. We try to encourage partners to think about IoT the same way they would any solution. IoT is about connecting things. Just take the mystery out of it for customers. Our solution providers can do that if they continue to enhance their skill sets."


John DeLozier , currently CenturyLink's vice president of the Channel Alliance program, talked about his new role as vice president, indirect strategic partnerships and alliances for CenturyLink following the close of the Level 3 acquisition.

"Garret Gee [currently Level 3's vice president of indirect sales] and I are basically becoming partners. I'll have our top 25 strategic partners globally, and [Gee] owns the execution in the field, including sales in the territories. We're both really excited about it, and it's going to be a good run. We want partners to know there is a plan in place with the people they love, and there will be huge opportunity for [partners] as we move forward."


Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channels for Comcast Business, discussed VARs, MSPs and agents building alliances with one another to fully satisfy end-user needs.

"For years, I've been like ["X-Files"] Agent Mulder -- I want to believe that VARs will become agents. But what really is happening is partners are finding each other and it's really about building a community of sales leads. Agents know networking, but they don't really know about applications. Instead of trying to learn about each other's business, what probably makes more sense is bridging it all together with a referral mechanism between different kinds of partners so solution providers know who to go to and who to work with that is an expert in the particular area."


Joe Chuisano, director of channels for Verizon Business Markets since July, talked about integrating the Verizon and XO Communications' channel programs following the close of the acquisition.

"As the Verizon Partner Program has come together with Verizon Business Markets, and as we brought XO in, we are creating one program that brings together the best of the [Verizon Partner Program] and the XO program all under one umbrella. We really will be launching a true revenue model for partners that is focused on new business in 2018."