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AT&T, Verizon Battle in 5G ‘Cage Match’ at PlanetOne Event

Ted Schuman PlanetOne Year-End 2018

(Pictured above: PlanetOne CEO Ted Schuman on stage at the master agent’s year-end Tech Tour stop in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nov. 15.)

PlanetOne is just weeks away from capping off another record-breaking year in revenue, and expects another strong year in 2019.

That’s what Ted Schuman, PlanetOne’s founder and CEO, told attendees during the master agent’s final 2018 Tech Tour conference stop in Scottsdale, Arizona. The annual event focuses on rewarding partners and providing a look at what’s ahead for the master agent.

“The goal every year is to keep the streak alive, which is 20 percent year-over-year growth,” Schuman said. “Frankly I don’t know how long the streak is; we’re north of a couple of decades. This was an incredible year. It was a little more of the same, and what drove the growth was really continuing for our partners to become more educated on selling the total bundle, the whole stack, as opposed to going in there and kind of fighting it out in the market with just traditional voice and data legacy services.”

Schuman released PlanetOne’s latest partner survey, which showed 88 percent of partners maintaining or increasing revenue. Also, 80 percent ranked the master agent’s communications as above average/excellent.

And more than 90 percent of partners ranked PlanetOne’s overall performance and overall management of their accounts as above average/excellent.

“Today, we’re probably approaching 75 percent of every sale that’s being made that I think you could legitimately say it was a solution-oriented sell,” Schuman said. “The transactional – just buying capacity or broadband connectivity – it’s part of the bundle now and usually not being sold separately, and I think that’s where you’re seeing the average revenue per order, the average size of the deal and the technology that we’re consulting on today has just exploded. And it’s created tremendous opportunity for all the partners in the channel, not just PlanetOne.”

PlanetOne's Jonathan Hartman

PlanetOne’s Jonathan Hartman

PlanetOne also announced that Jonathan Hartman has been promoted from vice president of sales to senior vice president of sales, and that Bernadette Richardson has been promoted from vice president of marketing to senior vice president of marketing. Also, Christi Clark is moving up from director of operations to vice president of operations.

Schuman said his company will invest in more people next year to provide more partner support.

“I will place the priority in spending and the capital in 2019 on driving headcount, and if I had to guess round numbers, we’ll probably increase our headcount between 30 percent and 40 percent in 2019,” he said. “We’ve been 100 percent channel since 1992, and you could say I have a direct sales force, but the direct sales force is simply there as an asset to our partners.”

During a “5G Cage Match,” Kevin Leonard, AT&T’s vice president of alternate channels and the leader of its Alliance Channel; Chris Lewter, Verizon’s vice president and general manager of SMB sales and distribution; Jonathan Blood, T-Mobile‘s vice president of direct to business and indirect @work; and Mike Mudd, Broad Sky Networks’ founder and president, talked about what partners can expect as 5G becomes widely available.

Lewter pointed out that Verizon already has launched 5G in restricted areas of certain cities, and now is lining up subscribers. He also said the telco is starting to “spin up ideas for applications” and that 5G is a “much bigger deal than we thought about prior.”

Leonard said AT&T is planning to launch its first 5G device and urged partners not to “wait for us for the use cases; learn about what 5G will bring you.” He also said partners shouldn’t be waiting for 5G to embrace IoT because …

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