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Frontier Problems, UC Company Bashing Among February’s Top 12 Channel Stories

it didn’t take long for February to heat up, when in the first week of the month, a Wildix executive laid into bigger rivals Fuze, RingCentral, 8×8 and Vonage as “vampire vendors.”

“If you work with them, they will reduce you to acting as a mere sales agent in the market,” Robert Cooper, Wildix’s general manager for North America, told attendees at his company’s UC&C Summit in Dallas. Channel Partners was there.

The hot news continued in winter’s final full month. Forrester analyst Jay McBain warned that direct sales were poised to outpace the channel for the first time in a very long time. Avaya’s Cloud Office product, set to debut March 31 in a partnership with RingCentral, was on your mind in February. And some stories from January – AT&T layoffs and a T-Mobile-Sprint merger update – hung around on our countdown for another month.

And an honorable mention that didn’t make our list — our 2020 Circle of Excellence honorees – which surged right at the end of the month but came up just short.

But which story was No. 1?

We compiled the gallery below to let you know which articles on our site drew the most traffic as well as those that performed best in our weekly newsletters. If you haven’t signed up for that yet, this is the place to do it.

Missed the previous month’s top stories? Click here to see our most-read posts in January.

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

TPx's Jim Delis
#12 — Fortinet-Equinix SD-WAN Partnership

Fortinet's SD-WAN solution is now available in Equinix‘s virtual network services marketplace.

Fortinet's Secure SD-WAN virtual network service can be accessed through Equinix Network Edge. The new colocation option aims to cater to businesses favoring a cloud-first approach to their workloads. Customers using multicloud applications will be able to improve latency “without compromising on security, " the companies said.

Learn more about how the team-up can help partners help their customers.
Datapipe's Robb Allen
#11 — Channel People on the Move

This edition of our red-hot monthly feature included movers and shakers at Vonage, Telarus, Star2Star and more.
Edify.cx's JP Dundas
#10 — Nitel Hires Oracle, AT&T Alum

Dickey, Mark_Nitel

Nitel's Mark Dickey

Speaking of people on the move, your ears perked up when you learned that Nitel had hired Mark Dickey as its new executive VP of sales and marketing to oversee a "channel-first" growth strategy.

Dickey most recently was Oracle's senior director of alliances and channel. Other past employers are HP, Brocade and AT&T.

Get to know him in case you missed the original story.
Edify.cx's JP Dundas
#9 — CenturyLink Cutting Hundreds of Jobs

CenturyLink said it would cut 310 jobs companywide, including 150 of its more than 2,000 workers in Minnesota, in its latest "workforce alignment." The impacted workers perform installation and repair, as well as central office duties.

The move was bashed by the Communications Workers of America, which said that the company "has tried to evade its service quality obligations, laying off hundreds of experienced workers in the process,”

The layoffs affect less than 1% of CenturyLink's workforce, which pales in comparison to the thousands of jobs cut in 2018 in the aftermath of finalizing its $34 billion acquisition of Level 3 Communications.
Nitel's Mark Dickey
#8 — Channel Influencers Digital Issue

It's the third year of our Channel Influencers digital issue, where we recognize 10 channel innovators to watch and our Channel Influencer of the Year, this year being John DeLozier of 8x8.

Our edit staff also tracks the top organizations, trends and technologies in 2020 and beyond. Download it now.
Fusion Connect's Don Coufal
#7 — T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Update

Our story detailing how approvals for T-Mobile's giant acquisition of Sprint could drag into summer, posted in late January, was still drawing a lot of eyeballs until we learned on Feb. 11 that it might get done a lot sooner.

That's after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from 14 state attorneys general in a move that represented the last federal regulatory hurdle for the two companies. The merger still needs approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, but T-Mobile executives believe the merger might now close as soon as April 1.
Axonius' Mark Daggett
#6 — Avaya Cloud Office

We published a series of stories, coinciding with Avaya's Engage event in Phoenix last month, about the company's Cloud Office solution, poised to make its debut on March 31.

The company is banking on its massive new partnership with RingCentral, which the companies announced last October. Avaya Cloud Office combines RingCentral’s UCaaS platform with Avaya phones, services and migration capabilities for businesses of all sizes.

Learn more about Avaya Cloud Office.
Fusion Connect's Iris Martell
#5 — ScanSource Replaces Intelisys President Bradley

Intelisys' Jay Bradley

Intelisys' Jay Bradley

It came as surprise to some when ScanSource, which bought Intelisys three years ago, replaced Jay Bradley, longtime president of the master agency, with Mark Morgan. Both Bradley and VP Carol Beering moved into advisory roles.

The news came on the heels of disappointing second-quarter 2020 fiscal results, our Lynn Haber reported. ScanSource said the changes reflect the distributors' continued investments in the Intelisys business to drive growth. ScanSource CEO Mike Baur told us that "we remain committed to adding more resources as we move forward to the next phase of growth for Intelisys and our partners."
Fusion Connect's Adam Fargiano
#4 — Direct Sales to Outpace Channel

That's Forrester analyst Jay McBain, on stage at the Wildix UC&C Summit in Dallas, telling a partner audience that direct sales are poised to grow faster than indirect sales in 2020, which would be the first time in four decades.

The meteoric rise of public cloud providers and consistent growth of SaaS providers like Salesforce spell revenue for channel partners, but McBain said a larger share has gone through marketplaces and other direct routes as of late.

Learn more about McBain's ominous forecast.
Fusion Connect's Iris Martell
#3 — AT&T Job Cuts

In a move to "continuously work to make our operations more efficient," AT&T began the year with another round of staffing cuts. Axios reported that the number is in the thousands, after the carrier assigned them to train their own foreign replacements.

At an investor conference in December, AT&T COO John Stankey said the carrier would decrease labor costs in 2020, but didn’t say if that would include layoffs or job freezes. Now we know.

“No place is safe,” Stankey said. “We are looking across the entire business.”

Read our story, published on Jan. 3, which was still drawing a ton of interest in February.
RingCentral's John Finch
#2 — Frontier Bankruptcy Looming?

Another story published in January that kept on humming along in February was our report on Frontier Communications' financial issues. The company reportedly is moving closer to filing chapter 11 bankruptcy as it struggles with a $17.5 billion debt load.

Our Edward Gately cited a Bloomberg report saying the company is asking creditors to help craft a turnaround deal that includes filing for bankruptcy by the middle of March.

Frontier’s vice president of corporate communications and external affairs told Channel Partners his company’s business and operations are “solid, and serving our customers remains our top priority.”
RingCentral's John Finch
#1 — Wildix Exec Riles Up UC Community

Was this ever a doozy. Robert Cooper, Wildix's general manager for North America, blasted bigger rivals RingCentral, 8x8, Fuze and Vonage as "vampire vendors" who will "reduce you to acting as a mere sales agent in the market."

The exec, taking the stage at the Wildix UC&C Summit in Dallas, said vendors such as these could "ultimately co-opt your customer base, while Wildix wants to put you and your services at the center of its business model."

And he didn't stop there. Cooper identified three other categories Wildix's rivals fall into, such as "The Walking Dead," which represents legacy voice vendors who are “slowly exiting the marketplace” but remain afloat due to a large base of partners and customers. Then there are "VoIP Truz" and "dinosaurs." This was truly the can't-miss story of the month.

We reached out to a number of the companies he blasted, but they didn't choose to comment.

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