**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q4 2013.**
Early reactions within the channel to the proposed, $45 billion merger of Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable reflect a mixture of fear, optimism and "wait and see" attitudes.
The biggest concern among partners appears to pertain to money.
"I think eventually [the merger] will harm the channel in the form of a change in terms and conditions, and compensation strategy," said Curt Allen, president of X4 Solutions.
Michael Bremmer, CEO of TelecomQuotes.com, agreed.
"If this [deal] happens, I think it will make offering Comcast more difficult because we will be reticent to sell the new, more powerful company because of fears that our long-term annuity income will be less secure than it was before," he said.
There's additional unease surrounding post-merger logistics.
"Integration of the two companies is going to be a mess," said Brad Miehl, president and CEO of MicroCorp. "So in the short term, things may be status quo, gradually becoming more difficult as integration begins."
Over time, however, Miehl expects that Comcast and Time Warner Cable "should be able to take best practices of each company and create a better experience for the channel and end customers."
Ken Mercer, vice president of Telecom Brokerage Inc., holds a similar view.
"At first I think they will be separate and business as usual," he said. "Then a small period of pain as systems are integrated, but both run regional support programs, and none of the footprints overlap. So it should be a smooth transition."
Steve Braverman, CEO and founder of X4 Solutions, expressed optimism as well. If regulatory bodies approve the behemoth transaction, "it's exciting for the channel and the end-user business because of the increased footprint with one carrier," he said. "And [Craig] Schlagbaum and company have done a tremendous job building and supporting the channel, so the merger will just add to it. No fear."
Meanwhile, distributor Ingram Micro, which sells Time Warner Cable Business Class broadband services through its cloud division, is taking the wait-and-see approach.
"We look forward to understanding how we can leverage the combined Comcast/TWC to provide new and exciting services for the channel," Jason Bystrak, director of sales for Ingram Micro's North America Services Division, told Channel Partners.