Windstream Bankruptcy: Partner Dialogue Changes


Amid its bankruptcy, Windstream‘s focus on UCaaS and SD-WAN have created new opportunities and sales for partners.

Windstream's Curt Allen

Windstream’s Curt Allen

That’s according to Curt Allen, Windstream Enterprise’s president of strategic channels. It’s now been nearly seven months since Windstream filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company hasn’t yet indicated when it expects to emerge from Chapter 11, but last month said it “continues to work expeditiously to emerge from restructuring with the best possible terms for the company and its stakeholders.”

Back in April, Windstream initiated plans to cut 15% of its partners while increasing commissions for the remaining partners for selling strategic products. Its partner program previously included 31 standard agreements and the bankruptcy court said that was too much. So Windstream consolidated all of its partners onto a single agreement.

Last month, a bankruptcy judge approved motions by creditor groups to take part in Windstream’s mediation talks with Uniti Group. Windstream wants to recharacterize its relationship with Uniti from a lease to a financing. Windstream pays Uniti about $650 million annually to use Uniti’s network.

During this week’s Channel Partners Evolution, we caught up with Allen to get the latest on how the Chapter 11 process is impacting partners.

Channel Partners: What’s the status of all the changes that were discussed in April regarding Windstream’s partner program?

Curt Allen: The changes discussed in April have been implemented as planned. So far we have seen an increase in engagement, activity and new logo sales across our partner program.

CP: How have the changes impacted Windstream’s channel? How are partners performing?

CA: The changes we implemented enabled us to reinvest in our partner program. One of those reinvestments was a new 5% additional residual incentive. This reinvestment, incentive and focus on our SD-WAN and UCaaS solutions have created meaningful increases in pipeline and sales, including a $163,000 monthly recurring revenue (MRR) Avaya UC deal we closed recently with a sub of a master we have been experiencing substantial growth with. Since April we have expanded SD-WAN to include Fortinet. Having Fortinet and Velo options provides greater flexibility for partners. We have added Avaya IP Office to our UCaaS portfolio and expanded functionality to our OfficeSuite UC service. Our Office Suite UC solution recently earned its place on the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for our ability to execute and completeness of vision. We are pleased to offer this solution to our customers to help them be more efficient.

CP: Has the dialogue with partners regarding the bankruptcy changed? Are they now more focused on when Windstream is going to emerge?

CA: Yes, initially they had questions about what it would mean for them short and long term. We have been proactive in our communications throughout the process and they have been appreciative of the transparency and updates. Partners are naturally curious about when we will emerge, but are more focused on how we come together to win business. Our partner conversations are laser-focused on where we can be successful together. We are…

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  1. Avatar Dave September 18, 2019 @ 10:53 am

    I’m a 20 year formerly loyal Paetec / Windstream Partner.
    They are no longer paying us for their “Evergreen” commissions. 5 figures per month!.
    My mission is to seek out as many Windstream customers as possible and move them to competing services and rescue them from horrid service and likely decline of Windstream.
    their service reliability has declined for years. hey have reduced staff and customer service levels. They raise prices during term plans for customers as well.

    • Avatar Brad Carrell September 18, 2019 @ 3:15 pm

      Not one word of any of this has been rolled out to the partner community. Not one single master has delivered any of this information and I work with 4 of the largest ones. So I am calling this not true. No 5% residual or Channel Harmony program has been launched.

      • Avatar Todd Singleton October 4, 2019 @ 1:35 pm

        Brad, I think Dave would know if he’s getting payments from Windstream or not. You keep carrying that banner Brad. Soon you can have your own day in bankruptcy court just like Windstream. But have you spun off your assets to make payments to yourself yet? Make sure they are real estate holding companies with a “lease” so you can pay it before the people you actually owe. Brad? Brad? Wake up Brad! Your Windstream’s burning.

  2. Avatar Peter Radizeski September 26, 2019 @ 8:48 am

    You left out an important point here: there are new sales because every contract has a quota for new sales to continue receiving commission. So even partners loath to sell WIND have to in order to keep commissions flowing.

  3. Avatar Todd Singleton October 4, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

    You “Channel Partners” continue to sell Windstream to your own demise. If you have been following what’s been going on at all you’d know they are only worried about using you and soon you may NEVER get paid. One Gunderman brother is simply interested in continuing to pay the other before anyone else. Windstream spun off Uniti as a shell company tax haven, a tax have scheme by Tony Thomas desperate to save his failing disaster. And he decided not to tell bond holders who sued him. And Windstream lost. Then they filed for bankruptcy. Now their trying to argue to the courts they need to pay Uniti first who are calling themselves a “landlord”. No, you are a shell company, a finance arrangement as argued by US Bank and others who should be getting paid first. Then the judge puts them in arbitration with each other?!? Ya, like we’re supposed to believe Ken Gunderman is furiously mad at Bob Gunderman because Ken told Bob Windstream can’t access Uniti’s fiber unless Windstream pays their “lease”. This whole thing stinks to high hell and anyone who resells Windstream is a dishonest pawn dishonoring customers because you ignorantly became dependent on revenue and commission from the worst telco to ever buy up assets across the country. For shame. How many lies do you have to tell to get people to sign on with a company that will likely burn before ever emerging from Chapter 11?

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