Dealmaking and Policymaking Collide in D.C.

Its nearing midnight in D.C., but the Channel Partners Expo crowd is still out in force. The event has drawn a sizable group estimates are around 2,000 to the nations capital city. With an array of restaurants just a block away from the host hotel, D.C. has been an ideal backdrop for this event, which is known for its networking and dealmaking opportunities. Nearly every restaurant in Adams Morgan played host to channel partners and their vendors. What better way to do business than over a plate of grape leaves or crab cakes?

Turn the clock back about 12 hours and we find ourselves at the official kickoff of the conference agenda (sponsored by SES Americom) with the Executive Roundtable (see story) featuring executives representing both partners and carriers discussing carrier consolidation. Given that there is likely to be more M&A, panelists agreed that agents need to start now to secure their positions both contractually and strategically with their preferred vendors. The group also predicted a parallel trend of mergers among agents to pick up speed. Economies of scale, then, appears to be a pursuit for all competitors in the telecom world.

Another maneuver that may be less obvious to agents is to get involved in policymaking. Two featured speakers, Earl Comstock, CEO and president of competitive association COMPTEL, and Dicarlos Davis, adjunct professor at Texas Southern University, both told agents today that they need to weigh in on the policy debate. Comstock urged partners to understand the recent changes made by the FCC that impact common carrier obligations and, thus, their supply base (see story). He encouraged them to meet with their local congressmen to tell them how they relay on competitive suppliers to serve their customers and how they might be harmed by a marketplace with fewer competitors. Davis, which just completed a survey of the agent market, told agents regulators dont even realize what an impact the channel has on the economy. He armed them with data they can share with their representatives showing that the channel touches 2.6 million end users to the tune of $30 billion (see story). Small businesses serving small businesses have a compelling story and represent a voting body that most politicians will take the time to listen to.

The details of this presentation can be found in the PHONE+ eBook, “State of the Channel.” Please download at:


The channels impact was felt literally on the show floor during the opening reception (sponsored by Resurgence and PHONE+) where navigating through the crowds filling the aisles was like carnival bumper cars. There were a few serious traffic jams. One was near the Covad booth where Cisco joined in to support the companies new joint marketing effort combining Covads network services with Ciscos Call Manager. Another interest addition to this years show floor was Panasonic, displaying its Toughbook line of rugged and thin and light laptops paired with wireless connectivity. Panasonic was one of a dozen companies that participated in the wireless pavilion a growing part of the Channel Partners Expo event. The news there? They have hooked up with master agent StarMobile to handle the wireless activations for the dealer channel. For more exhibitor and sponsor news, click here.

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