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CenturyLink Channel Chief Talks Level 3, Alliances, Future

CenturyLink's John DeLozier at CP Expo

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — It’s a new day at CenturyLink and the telco giant stands ready to help partners in the midst of convergence and CapEx versus OpEx.

That was the message conveyed by John DeLozier, vice president of CenturyLink Channel Alliance, during his Channel Partners Conference & Expo keynote titled “The Changing Channel: Making the Most of the Market Opportunities.” This was his first appearance at a Channel Partners conference.

On Wednesday, CenturyLink announced that Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland and the District of Columbia recently joined the states of Georgia, Ohio, Utah and West Virginia in approving its planned acquisition of Level 3 Communications. The merger is anticipated to be final by Sept. 30.

“The states that came out today to approve I think is a really cool thing; it’s just one more step in what the inevitable will be when we close this acquisition later in the year,” DeLozier said. “The partner feedback around the proposed acquisition has been phenomenal. I think they’re excited. Collectively, when this transaction goes through, we will be the second-largest networking company in the world. We’re happy about that. We combine the strengths of both companies. And I think there’s a buzz in the air as we step up to the plate as the No. 2 provider worldwide.”{ad}

In the meantime, DeLozier said a “convergence story is being written,” and CenturyLink’s customers and partners are on a bullet train moving down the track, “and we’re the foundation for them.”

“We’ve got to get it right,” he said. “It’s got to be a smooth ride.”

DeLozier also talked about the CapEx/OpEx “dilemma” facing much of the channel.

“You’ve had these partners that have sold systems, solutions, to customers as a VAR for years and years, and they pay their people a certain way; it’s 50 percent down and 50 percent on completion, and we’re all done,” he said. “But the customers now are saying ‘No, I don’t think I want that, I think I’ll take a cloud solution instead,’ and that’s an ongoing annuity-based thing. How do we pay for that and how do we support that? And then on the opposite side of that is the same thing. We’ve got the agents that have typically just made their commission and done their thing, and all around them these business outcomes are being solved with hardware solutions and software solutions, and UC, and they’ve not been part of it. And that makes them really sticky to their customers. So I think that dilemma is something that we at CenturyLink can help them solve.”

In February, CenturyLink announced to its channel community the expansion of its Alliance program, offering partners four ways to work with the telco giant. Along with the traditional Channel Alliance, CenturyLink now offers Software Alliance, Systems Integrator Alliance and Strategic Partner Alliance programs.

“We will always reward our best performers,” DeLozier said. “Everybody’s got the same chance. Everybody has a chance to ascend through that metals program to the top, and we’re going to take care of the best of the best. And so we want them to aspire to get to those next levels. It’s going really great … and the partner participation … I knew that they were going to come out excited about it, but I wasn’t prepared for how excited they are.”


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