Comcast Business Adds Avant as Master Agent

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CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — Comcast Business has signed an agreement with Avant in which the master agent will offer Comcast Business services to its channel sales partners.

Through the agreement, Avant is expanding its portfolio to enhance high-speed access to SD-WAN and colocation.

Comcast's Craig SchlagbaumDuring this week’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast Business’ vice president of indirect channels, talked about the benefits of the new agreement, and said his company will launch its own SD-WAN offering in the second half of the year.

“We’ve been pretty tight regarding our master agent distribution mechanism and when we started the program six years ago we only had three master agents,” he said. “We’ve expanded since then, but always strategically to try to grow incrementally versus share shifting. And in the case of Avant, they have a market space where they’re selling predominantly in the enterprise space, a lot of midmarket, upmarket customers that require fiber to get to the cloud, so it’s a natural fit for them when they sell infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or any cloud solutions to use Comcast for fiber. In addition to that, they’ll be able to use the SD-WAN solution that’s coming in the second half of the year.”

Ian Kieninger, Avant’s CEO, said Comcast’s continued expansion into data center access and speeds, as well as “an attractive alternative for redundant network connectivity, makes Comcast a strong fit for Avant’s channel partners.”{ad}

“By integrating Comcast, we accelerate the channel reach into the mid-to-enterprise Avant sales channel,” he said “Comcast fiber is the onramp to the cloud highway. So, a partnership with Comcast is a natural progression of our evolution as a company.”

Avant sells a lot of hosted voice offerings, and Comcast Business’ VoiceEdge product, which includes a new seat-based pricing model and additional support components, “will be a natural addition as well,” Schlagbaum said.

“With those product offerings, we think that they can help us grow incrementally,” he said. “They’re involved in a number of large nationwide VARs like CDW, for example, and they have unique access to those markets that we think we can leverage and collectively get more market share together. So it’s an exciting partnership for us. I’ve been on it for probably the last two years trying to make it work and we finally felt the timing was right.”

March was a record sales month for Comcast Business with the channel, and that’s a result of distributions expanding and more products being sold, Schlagbaum said.

“When we launched the channel six years ago, all we had was coax and nothing else, and predominantly just bandwidth and just a little bit of voice, and since then we’ve gone to Ethernet that’s nationwide … and SmartOffice and the fact that we’re upping bandwidth capability,” he said. “The combination of those things, which will be followed up by SD-WAN coming shortly – we’ve got it in pilot with a few partners already and some pilot customers – there [are] going to be some great opportunities for the channel as we move through the rest of 2017.”

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