Panasonic debuts in the wireless pavillion.
Jon Skinner (XO), James Maitland (YFon Global) and Mark Pyne (XO) celebrate James’ third-place win in the XO racecar-driving contest.
Phil Rundo of Global Touch Telecom cheers for his win in the 3PV Vegas spa package raffle.
AireSpring gives Channel Partners a thumbs up.
Attendees visit the Voilà IP Communications booth.
MORE THAN 2,000delegates crowded the ballrooms, meeting rooms and lobbies of the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Fall 2006 Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Heralded as the most successful East Coast convention for the nine-year-old show, the three-day event combined dealmaking, education and networking against the historic backdrop of the nation’s capital city just weeks before national elections.
The campaigning spirit was alive and well for this event. While the pitches from the more than 100 vendors, sponsors and exhibitors varied, the underlying theme was convergence — both voice and data services as well as fixed and mobile technologies.
COMPTEL President Earl Comstock delivers a regulatory update.
Peter Austin with Dollar Phone Corp. tries to steal the treasure from Broadwing Networks’ booth.
IPcelerate’s CEO, Kevin Brown, speaks about commercial VoIP deployment.
TBI’s Ken Mercer talks to agent Jim Tway on the show floor.
Taking a spin in the XO racecar requires deep concentration.
Greg Praske, CEO of Virginia-based agency ARG, says there is a need for national providers, converged providers that can address voice, data and wireless. Praske’s comments came in the conference’s kick-off executive roundtable discussion on Surviving Consolidation. In citing this gap, he notes two years ago, agents could sell services AT&T Corp., SBC Communications Inc., MCI and Verizon Communications Inc. Today, there are just two.
These megamergers as well as the pending CLEC mergers (see related story) concern agents with regard to how the surviving entities handle agent contracts and commission streams.
Panelists Geoff Shepstone, president of Chicago-based master agency Telecom Brokerage Inc., says bluntly, agents are worried about commissions. He specifically cites programs in flux at the Tier 1 carriers, which agents are “waiting to see which way they fall.”
“Big vendors need to realize if you don’t pay people the big base goes away after a while,” he adds.
Some carrier executives, including panelists from TelePacific Communications, Sprint and XO Communications, acknowledge this and have set on a pro-channel course. Ken Bisnoff, senior vice president of strategic opportunities for TelePacific, says his company has realized significant advantage from its indirect sales force, including customers who pay faster, who return 10 percent greater revenue and who churn less.
The value of the channel was the subject of a special State of the Channel address, delivered by Dicarlos Davis, an adjunct professor with Texas Southern University. Davis told agents that research undertaken by TSU, the Houston Technology Center and Vortel Inc., concluded communications agents touch 2.6 million end users to the tune of $30 billion. Armed with this information, agents can not only advocate for themselves with the carrier community but also with policymakers, he said. This sentiment was echoed by speaker Earl Comstock, CEO and president of competitive association COMPTEL, who also spoke at the event about pending policy issues. Comstock urged partners to understand the recent changes made by the FCC that impact common carrier obligations and,thus, their supply base. He encouraged them to meet with their local congressmen to tell them how they relay on competitive suppliers to serve their customers and how they might be harmed by a marketplace with fewer competitors. Davis told agents regulators don’t even realize what an impact the channel has on the economy. Small businesses serving small businesses have a compelling story and represent a voting body that most politicians will take the time to listen to, he adds.
PHONE+’s Mike Saxby, Tammy Fellows and Suzy Kelly hang out with some American icons at the XO party.
In the expo hall, the discussion turned to outreach of a different sort — how to appeal to customers with convergence technologies. More than 100 vendors displayed products and services with convergence in mind. Genesys Conferencing, for example, rolled out a softphone for use with its Genesys Meeting Center virtual meeting service. Voilà IP Communications launched a white-label version of its managed VoIP service. NBS debuted a hosted VoIP services. And, YFonGlobal showed its innovative collaboration and communications platform.
Other companies used the venue to roll out their channel programs. Level 3 Communications Inc. launched its Business Partner Program for sales of its MPLS, VPN and local market IP services. And, Aastra Telecom launched a reseller channel for its VoIP and mobility products.
PHONE+ Awards Partners More Than $6,000 in Prizes
THREE ATTENDEES AT THE FALL2006 Channel Partners Conference & Expo won big prizes in daily drawings sponsored by PHONE+, hosts of the D.C. event.
Jeffery Ponts with Datatel Solutions won a $1,500 GolfSmith Gift Card in a drawing among qualified channel partner attendees on Aug. 23.
Michael Parad with Telecom Consultants LLC was the winner of a $1,000 Sharper Image Gift Card on Aug. 24.
And, the Grand Prize, a $2,500 Visa Gift Card, was awarded on the show floor on Aug. 25, to Joseph Boyd with MainBoard LLC, an agent for ShopforT1. This drawing was open to paid registrants who completed the official Show Ballot with stamps from participating exhibitors.
PHONE+ also awarded an Early Bird Prize — $1,000 and two nights’ stay at the show hotel — to Jim Tway, of JIM TEL LLC. Tway was selected at random from among qualified channel partner delegates who registered for the trade show as of July 21.
PHONE+ Recognizes CSP Certified Graduate, Announces Expedited Program
PHONE+ ACKNOWLEDGED A NEWgraduate of the Converged Solution Provider Certification Program and announced an expedited training schedule at the Fall 2006 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C.
Peter Diessel, director of operations for master agency Telecom Brokerage Inc., is the latest student to receive passing scores on tests of the six-module online course, which was rolled out in fall 2005.
PHONE+ and training partners Telecom Solution Center and IPx Connect administer the program.
Diessel is now a CSP Certified Professional and has mastered a minimum skill level in sales, converged technology and telemanagement necessary to support his customers and represent his company. Two additional certification levels — Specialist and Expert — are planned.
CSP Certified graduate Peter Diessel receives his certificate from Telecom Solution Center’s Scott Levy at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C.
Diessel joined TBI in 2001 after military service with The Royal Danish Guards and a career in logistics. At TBI, he is responsible for managing the company’s commissions, office and trade show participation.
Diessel, who has been serving in an operational capacity at TBI for the past five years, is planning to transition into a channel sales role. “I thought that CSP Certification would aid me by [giving me a] better understanding what the agents’ needs are so that I might better support them,” he says.
As a graduate, Diessel will receive a certificate and authorization to use the CSP Certified logo on his business cards. His name also will be featured on the CSP Certification Graduation page online at www.cspcertified.com.
Channel partners (or carriers interested in training their direct sales forces) now can train in two days under a new expedited schedule. The nine-hour instructor-led curriculum will be offered over two days followed by online testing.
“Instead of waiting 90 days, students can earn their credentials in as few as two days,” says PHONE+ Editor in Chief Khali Henderson. “We hope this will make an already accessible program even more convenient.”
CSP Certification courses are available individually for $149 and $99 each when purchased as a complete package of six modules. Check the program Web site, www.cspcertified.com for upcoming class times and dates.
|Aastra Telecom www.aastra.com|
AT&T Corp. www.att.com
Channel Partners Conference & Expo www.channelpartnersconference.com
CSP Certification Program www.cspcertified.com
DataTel Solutions www.datatelsolutions.com
Genesys Conferencing www.genesys.com
Houston Technology Center www.houstontech.org
IPx Connect www.ipxconnect.com
Level 3 Communications Inc. www.level3.com
MainBoard LLC www.mainboardllc.com
Telecom Brokerage Inc. www.tbicom.com
Telecom Solution Center www.telecomsolutioncenter.com
Texas Southern University www.tsu.edu/academics/business/
Verizon Communications Inc. www.verizon.com
Voila IP Communications www.voilaip.com
XO Communications Inc. www.xo.com