The majority of our sales today are coax phone and data with fiber Internet being our fastest growing service. I believe our unique fiber assets are the key to our future growth, and seem to be the product which most interests our channel partners. PRI over our fiber infrastructure is a key focus. We recently added SIP trunking over fiber, a service unique to Charter compared to the other cable providers. Future service enhancements coming near term are focused on layering more traditional SLAs over our current services, as well as offering a hosted VoIP service and continuing efforts to expand Ethernet over coax.
What will be the biggest challenge/opportunity for channel partners generally in 2012?
Channel Partners must continue to evolve their business models to add value to their customers. I see two clear trends that all channel partners must be aware of:
- Cloud computing is a real trend and is driving VARs and SIs into the space traditionally owned by telecom agents. Not only are their revenue streams being replaced by cloud services, but their customers are demanding that they ensure the reliability and security of their bandwidth connections. The VARs/SIs are, in turn, being messaged about the ability to make money through agency by the master agents and vehicles such as Channel Partners and CRN Magazine. The entry of VARs and SIs into the networking space will continue to accelerate. Traditional agents must be able to understand the cloud space and continue to increase their technical skills in order to compete as well as team with integrators.
- I also see the trend of acceptance and adoption of indirect channels continuing to play out. Most carriers are relying on indirect channels more and more as they lessen investment in direct sales. Most ILECs and CLECs have also abdicated the lowest end of the market to the cable providers as they simply cannot compete with the value-priced bandwidth options that cable providers have. This creates both an opportunity and a threat to existing channel partners. The market will continue to rapidly increase but there will be aggressive, technologically advanced partners continuing to enter as competitors.
What is Charter doing with regard to cloud, particularly from a channel perspective?
Charter has long-term plans to offer cloud services, however, today it is not a major focus. Today we are focused on value pricing and high-speed Internet access for customers who need better connectivity into the cloud. In other words, Charter is the “on ramp" to cloud computing.