New Channel Chief: Windstream a ‘Hedge’ Against AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink


Channel vet Curt Allen left the channel in September with plans to take a year off, and then return with a new entrepreneurial pursuit.

Then Windstream came calling and changed everything. Allen is taking over as Windstream’s channel chief, replacing Olen Scott, who took over the position in late February. Allen will start his new job on Nov. 13.

Scott became Windstream’s channel chief immediately after the company’s acquisition of EarthLink closed. He previously was EarthLink’s vice president of partner channels.

Windstream's Curt Allen

Windstream’s Curt Allen

Allen’s official title is senior vice president of channel. He was president of X4 Solutions, the master agent that was acquired by fellow master agent Sandler Partners. He became Sandler’s president of channel before leaving in September.

Layne Levine, president of Windstream’s enterprise business division, said Allen is somebody “who really understands what we are going through.”

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Allen gives his assessment of Windstream’s channel strategy, and shares his plans for building an improved partner program and increasing channel sales.

Channel Partners: What made you want to come out of retirement to take the Windstream channel chief position?

Curt Allen: After initial conversations with Brian Crotty (president of Windstream’s midmarket and small business division) and then Layne Levine and Tony Thomas (president and CEO), and several other folks over there, it became apparent to me quickly that this was a group, both the existing leadership team and then the new folks coming on board, that was really committed to creating what I think will be the world-class organization in our space and, more importantly, very committed to channel playing a huge role in that. So running a carrier program wasn’t on my short list of things that I was going to do next, but it became apparent for a couple of reasons that this was the right thing for me to do.

The first one that jumped out at me was the underlying assets in the combined companies. From a pure network perspective, you look at the diversity of network assets, with broadband all the way up through big fiber and mixed wireless, and that type of diversity was always going to be a pretty powerful story. But you couple that with a really robust SD-WAN play to leverage those underlying network assets, and then you wrap in the Broadview Networks acquisition and what I think is one of the coolest, most compelling UCaaS plays in their OfficeSuite, and you’ve got a jumping-off point … for something that can really take advantage of the market from a networking solutions perspective. Second is the overall marketplace. You have two really large cable companies and you’ve got AT&T and Verizon, and then CenturyLink acquiring Level 3 and being really clear that their goal is to go after AT&T and Verizon … (and a) massive void in the space that used to be PaeTec, Windstream, XO, TelePacific — there were dozens in that space kind of filling that void as the agile CLEC, kind of easy to do business with, reliable, residual commission-paying companies that would be …

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