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Digital Planet Creates Charter Agency Program

Master agency Digital Planet Telecom, St. Paul, Minn.,  has retooled its franchise plans by introducing a Charter Agency program, which gives other individuals and companies the ability to leverage Digital Planets resources without necessarily taking on the Digital Planet name. The change also enables Digital Planet to collaborate with a broader range of partners to help them add telecom services, communications gear or managed IT as needed.

Digital Planet also announced a new Charter Agency partner, Compass Communications Inc., Phoenix.

The franchise program, launched in June 2010, targeted individuals and small agencies that wanted to leverage Digital Planets brand and replicate its proven model for providing telecom services through communications equipment VARs and interconnects.

The companies we are talking to today are larger, well known, locally connected companies. Most of the ability they have for sales is due to their local ties in their respective markets, and they have no need of the Digital Planet name to establish themselves,” said Digital Planet President Shawn Schmidt.

The inquiries and conversations also extended beyond telecom agencies to voice and data VARs looking to add other capabilities into their portfolios.

As communications technologies converge, one-dimensional organizations need to evolve to remain profitable and competitive,” Schmidt said, explaining that one-dimensional organizations only offer one of the three components required for communications integration  telecom connectivity, communications equipment and managed IT services. “Digital Planet is focused on making one-dimensional organizations into three-dimensional organizations by integrating the two dimensions they lack.”

The Charter Agency program is designed to help channel partners make that transition with little change to their day-to-day operations, Schmidt said.

Today, we are teaching VARs how to integrate telecom services not only into equipment sales, but adding managed IT as well,” Schmidt said. We are teaching traditional telecom agents how to sell technology equipment and IT services as a bundle; and we are teaching IT companies how to integrate telecom services and equipment into a complete managed services offering.”

The company operates its own VAR, Digital Planet Communications, which provides both voice gear and managed IT services. In addition, Schmidt said Digital Planet is bolstering its managed IT capabilities through a pending agreement that should be completed mid-June.

In addition to the services of a typical master agency, Digital Planet offers business development, strategic planning, sales and operations training, financing, executive development, as well as its knowledge base and  communications integration program.

The newest Charter Agency partner, Compass Communications, provides dial tone voice lines, high-speed Internet services, bundled voice and Internet T1 services, long distance, voice mail and specialty products from service providers, such as Century Link, Integra Telecom, XO Communications, PAETEC, Sprint, AT&T and Level 3 Communications.

Linda Abram, owner of Compass Communications, said becoming a Charter Agency is about gaining efficiencies.

We thought we had a good handle on our business. We were successful, growing our billing base and doing well,” Abram said. After becoming a Digital Planet Charter Agency, I learned we were not efficient in our operations, we were losing customers and leaving money on the table by not offering equipment or IT services, and we were working against our VAR and partner relationships without realizing it. Digital Planet not only simplified our day-to-day operations and increased our efficiencies; they give us a manageable plan to stay there.”


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