Top Carrier Executives Discuss Role of Channel in Changing Industry

Join leading carrier executives as they discuss the changing competitive landscape, carrier channel engagement strategies and expectations for the evolving role for the channel in this must-attend general session, Carrier Roundtable at 2:10 – 3:10 p.m., Sunday, March 4, at the Spring 2007 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

Senior executives participating in this interactive session include Mike Hassett, senior vice president, Business Solutions Group Sales and Marketing for Verizon; Jim Delis, president of Business Services Sales, XO Communications Inc.; Stephen M. Rowley, vice president, Sprint Nextel Indirect Partners Channels; and Dennis Kyle, senior vice president of indirect channels, Level 3 Communications Inc.

This year marks significant changes for some of the premier channel programs. Many of these are the result of mergers and acquisitions; others of opportunity or circumstance.

The Verizon-MCI pairing is now a year old and the companys first combined agent program and contract months in the making went into effect in January.

The plan has many vocal detractors, but the leading carrier signed about 100 partners for 2007, and is actively seeking strategic additions.

Qwests in-region commission reduction also has partners feeling unsettled, as if another shoe might drop. The company, which is widely regarded as channel-friendly, seems to be working hard to quell that unease with the creation of a partner-led task force. AT&T, fresh off its merger with SBC, has just acquired BellSouth, leaving many BellSouth agents concerned about their contracts.

Meanwhile, Level 3s buying spree has put it squarely in the position of having to reassure Broadwing agents that it is going to honor their agreements, which it has recently acquired. The company plans to take a page from Cisco in formulating its new program that emphasizes two-tier distribution.

In the interim, XO has picked this tumultuous time to shore up its program with a complete reorganization of its structure to include more local support and decision-making. Other competitive providers also are looking to provide a safe haven for partners who are feeling vulnerable to decisionmaking beyond their control.

Although the competitive and channel landscape is changing, one thing remains certain, carriers understand that channel partners are the key in helping them build relationships with high-value customers, says consultant John Macario, president of Savatar Inc. and moderator of todays roundtable discussion.

Macario intends to cover a wide range of topics, including:

How channel partners are currently helping them crack the market for new products

How they see industry consolidation changing their partner programs

Who they view as emerging competitive threats and how partners can help address them

What they see as new opportunities for partners

What carriers need from partners

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