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August’s Top 12 Stories: CenturyLink, Intelisys Execs, Top CCaaS Providers

As much of the country and world turns their attention to fall, we take a look back at the biggest stories making headlines in the last full month of summer. We saw a bevy of channel activity in August as the news wheel continues to rotate, even during a pandemic.

No surprise, but personnel news cracked our top 12 in a couple of forms. CenturyLInk restructured the top of its channel, appointing a pair of regional VPs. And Intelisys promoted a pair of execs who the channel knew from their days at XO and Paetec.

Our ongoing “20 top” series continued to gather steam; this time you wanted to know who analysts and insiders touted for contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) prowess.

Two stories published before August still had momentum; notably, Ziply Fiber taking over Frontier’s operations in the Northwest, and the unveiling of AT&T’s nationwide 5G coverage map.

Of course, those are but a few of the highlights from stories making headlines in the channel in August.

We compile our top 12 from a combination of online page views and popularity in our weekly newsletters. Be sure to join your friends and colleagues who are regular subscribers to that.

Then click through our gallery below to see which story was No. 1 in August, plus other stories making headlines. Looking for more countdowns? If you missed the previous month’s top stories, click here to see our most-read posts in July.

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen

#12 — Telarus Names Top Suppliers

The channel loves awards, so no surprise that this story kicks off our countdown of stories making headlines in August.

Telarus identified its top suppliers for their 2019 performance. CenturyLink led all suppliers in overall sales, followed by AT&T. Spectrum Business, Comcast Business and Nice InContact all got the nod as top five suppliers ranked by sales volume.

Agents voted on their favorite suppliers. That resulted in accolades for Mitel, Zayo, CommandLink and CBTS.

See the full list.
Cloudflare's John Graham-Cumming

#11 — Inc. 5000 List

Instead of scouring a list of 5,000 companies to find the fastest-growing telecom companies, we did the work for you.

Inc. 5000 came out with its annual list, which we broke down to feature those doing business in the channel that you would know. Master agents like Telarus and distributors such as Pax8 made it. 

See who else did.
Lifesize's Bobby Beckmann

#10 — RingCentral, ALE Team Up

It's been a huge year for RingCentral, which has signed a number of significant UCaaS partnerships so far; the biggest being a $500 million deal with Avaya.

But don't overlook this latest one — a multiyear partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE). It centers around a new, co-branded cloud offering, dubbed Rainbow Office powered by RingCentral. The new product, available in the first quarter of next year, allows businesses to meet their business needs with public UCaaS, the companies said.

Read more.
OneStream's Andrew Ramos

#9 — AT&T's New Nationwide 5G Coverage Map

This story we published in July was still going strong last month. AT&T declared its 5G coverage map is now "nationwide."

The carrier's 5G mobile network now is capable of reaching 205 million people, surpassing the FCC's requirement of 200 million. That being said, few smartphones at this point are equipped to carry a 5G signal.

Chris Roy, VP of AT&T Wholesale Solutions and AT&T Partner Exchange, told us this is a "big leap forward." 

“Whether you’re a small business or large enterprise, the opportunities with 5G are just beginning,” Roy said. “Now is the time for channel partners to dig in and get on board with the technology.”

Learn more about the burgeoning partner opportunity.
8x8 SIP

#8 — New CenturyLink Incentives

CenturyLink unveiled new incentives for partners in the last third of the year.

The company's partners can earn additional payouts by selling in five specific categories. Those qualified opportunities include the CenturyLink Engage communications portfolio, SD-WAN services and the CenturyLink Digital Business Bundle. They can also earn an incentive from selling to new customers in target markets or through deals over $25,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

Get more details on how you can make more money.
Comcast's Jody Hagemann

#7 — Windstream Restructuring Plan Gets Green Light

Windstream, on the verge of emerging from bankruptcy, was one of the stories making headlines last month when its restructuring plan was approved.

The business communications giant got the green light from a judge to move forward and emerge from bankruptcy as a privately held company. The plan calls for Windstream to reduce its debt by more than $4 billion. It also will have access to about $2 billion in new capital to expand 1 gig internet service in rural America.

That all being said, Windstream predicted it would leave bankruptcy behind in late August, which didn't come to fruition.
Sundstrom, Sam_CenturyLink

#6 — Intelisys Hires

Not long after ScanSource announced layoffs but highlighted growth at Intelisys, which it owns, the distributor announced it is promoting a pair of execs at the master agent who work closely with partners.

First, Brandon Smith is senior vice president of national sales. With the company for eight years, his old title was VP of business development and partner sales for the Central region. Next, Tracy Hali takes on the job of VP of sales operations. She just joined Intelisys a year ago as senior manager, strategic partner development.

Here's where to learn more about Smith and Hali.
Lifesize's David Hsieh

#5 — Ziply Fiber/Frontier

A story we published in early May continues to draw controversy; hence, online popularity that helps it land again in our monthly top 12.

As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Frontier Communications divested its Pacific Northwest operations and assets to a pair of private equity firms. Those companies formed Ziply Fiber. a new company that is investing $500 million to improve its network and service. Ziply also inherited the Frontier network, which it is improving as part of its $500 million investment.

Unfortunately, not all customers were happy with the transition, as they noted in the comments section of our story.
Lifesize's David Hsieh

#4 — 20 Top CCaaS Providers You Should Know

Our Edward Gately was at it again, polling master agents and industry analysts to get a list of suppliers worth watching. This time the topic was contact center as a service (CCaaS).

In the end, we had 20 top CCaaS providers we think you should know. Some are household names, while others are fairly new entrants to watch.

Check out our list of 20 top CCaaS providers you should know.
RingCentral's Anand Eswaran

#3 — CenturyLink's New Channel Sales VPs

After indirect president Lisa Miller left the business, CenturyLink made changes to its channel structure. Most notably, the company appointed vice presidents to lead channel sales in the East and West.

CenturyLink promoted six-year company vet Greg Fry to VP of indirect sales for the East. Craig Patterson will serve the same role in the West. Both report to channel chief Garrett Gee.

Learn more about the changes and what Fry and Patterson say about their new roles.
Bandwidth SIP

#2 — Microsoft Teams Together Mode

Since Microsoft Teams is such a widely used unified communications product, your ears perked up when you learned of a new feature that takes it to another level.

“Together Mode,” set to roll out soon, offers a more natural experience. It is an alternative to the common approach of presenting meeting participants in square tiles, in grid-like galleries. Instead, Together Mode simulates them in more realistic context.

Learn more about the new functionality that could be coming to your desktop and mobile device soon.
Bandwidth SIP

#1 — Channel People on the Move

Often a bridesmaid ... but this time our monthly recap of new hires and promotions in the channel made it to the top. It's no wonder why. This edition featured people on the move at Vonage, CenturyLink, Masergy and more.

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