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May’s Top 12 Stories: Ziply Fiber, Job Cuts, COVID-19 Partner Help

Just as the weather started heating up, so did news in the channel. Led by the Frontier-Ziply Fiber handoff in the Northwest and a list of top SD-WAN providers, our website had a lot of repeat visitors and newbies in May.

Of course, COVID-19 continued to dominate some headlines. For instance, an article about Ingram Micro’s efforts to help partners cracked our top 12.

Then there were the layoffs. Cloudera and FireEye each announced they’re cutting jobs. And a story about CenturyLink layoffs from way back in February had staying power.

But enough doom and gloom. Windstream’s CEO revealed when he expects the company to exit bankruptcy, a relief to many partners. Also, two new hires of note cracked our top 12, including a CEO for Fusion Connect and a Microsoft alum at RingCentral.

But the age old question asks, “Which was No. 1?” SD-WAN hot shots? Frontier-Ziply Fiber? Windstream bankruptcy? Scroll through our gallery below for the answer.

Our rankings come via our most trafficked articles online and your engagement with our weekly newsletters. So don’t miss your opportunity to sign up for the channel’s hottest newsletter, delivered to your inbox weekly. That’s right — you don’t have to wait until the first of the month to read about the channel’s most popular topics.

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

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen

#12 — So Long to AT&T's '5G Evolution'

Partners no longer will be able to tout "5G evolution" when they sell AT&T's mobility services. That's because the National Advertising Review Board concluded the term “evolution” isn't enough to alert customers the carrier's service isn't 5G.

T-Mobile challenged AT&T's use of the term and won, while AT&T "respectfully disagreed" with the decision. The carrier restated its position that its customers continue to benefit from “dramatically superior speeds and performance” that its network provides.

Read more about this hot-button issue.
CommScope's Jeff White

#11 — Fusion Connect Names New CEO

You probably know Brian Crotty best from Broadview Networks, but now he has the top job at Fusion Connect.

Crotty's role as chief executive won't be an easy one; that's because he must lead the network, cloud and collaboration provider in its first year post-bankruptcy. Crotty most recently was chief commercial officer at Sungard Availability Services.

Fuson's board chair cited Crotty's ability to implement “operational efficiencies while focusing on exceptional customer service and advancing strategies for growth.”

Read what Crotty had to say about Fusion and his new position.

#10 — Ingram Micro COVID-19 Partner Help

A lot of companies are stepping up to help their customers and partners through the COVID-19 crisis. But it was Ingram Micro's efforts that got your attention most last month.

The distributor debuted two new financial services for partners in the U.S. and Canada. With "90 Days Same as Cash," partners can offer customers the option to lease or pay cash for new technology after 90 days. And Bakers Dozen extends a typical 12-month financing deal to 13 payments at no additional charge.

See if you might qualify for these benefits.

Aryaka logo 2020

#9 — CenturyLink Maps Out Fiber Expansion

CenturyLink partners can look forward to more fiber-selling opportunities in the months ahead. The communications giant said it has plans to bring gigabit speeds to another 400,000 small businesses and homes via fiber. People in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Orgeon, Utah and Washington will benefit.

Channel chief Garrett Gee said the expansion helps customers with the "high-speed networking and business solutions they need."

“As CenturyLink’s multitenant unit building footprint expands, the opportunity for our partners increases," Gee added.

We are pretty sure you want to learn more.
INAP's Michael Sicoli

#8 — Channel People on the Move

Our monthly catalog of new hires and promotions didn't fail to impress. Because you want to know which of your friends, colleagues and rivals is moving on up!

This edition featured moves at LogMeIn, BullsEye Telecom, Powernet and more. That's Edify.cx's Ashley Johnson pictured above.
Open Systems' Jeff Brown

#7 — RingCentral Hires Sorgen

Speaking of people on the move, RingCentral made a big splash when it scooped up Phil Sorgen. The longtime channel veteran is the former Microsoft channel chief.

Sorgen told Channel Partners he joined the UCaaS provider because "every company is trying to be more collaborative, more connected, more mobile and more data-driven. And RingCentral products are at the sweet spot of that.”

Get the full scoop on Sorgen's new gig.
MetTel's Max Silber

#6 — AT&T, Five9 Team on Cloud Contact Center

Although not yet available for sale via partners, you were interested to learn what's coming down the pike from AT&T.

The carrier's new partnership with Five9 centers around a new cloud contact center offer. AT&T Cloud Contact Center combines call center functions from Five9 with AT&T’s global network, and portfolio of voice and collaboration tools. Also, artificial intelligence in Cloud Contact Center helps make each agent more effective, the companies said.
Fusion Connect's Brian Crotty

#5 — Google Meet Challenges Zoom, Others

With the work-from-home surge, you could argue there's never been a better time for video conferencing providers. And competitors are trading punches to determine who will emerge from the pack.

Google revamped Meet, formerly Hangouts Meet, with new business-grade capabilities. Free through Sept. 30, Google says the update addresses Hangouts Meet's limitations.

Read more about what's different.
Tata Communications logo

#4 — Windstream Bankruptcy Exit Pending

Windstream's chapter 11 bankruptcy continued to make headlines in May. You were glued to all of our updates, but this story identifying a likely exit date was the most popular.

CEO Tony Thomas said on an earnings call he expects the company to emerge from bankruptcy in late August. Also on the call, Thomas touted a 28% increase in what Windstream calls "enterprise strategic revenue" in the previous quarter. Channel partners, of course, played a significant role in that.

Citing COVID-19 and the state of the economy, “Windstream overcame unprecedented conditions ... to deliver solid results in the first quarter," Thomas said.
Tata Communications logo

#3 — Industry Layoffs

Never the most uplifting news, you wanted to know which companies are letting people go. Three articles about job cuts, which we have combined here, cracked our top 12.

Cybersecurity vendor FireEye acknowledged it's cutting 6% of its workforce, a little more than 200 people. FireEye says the layoffs were necessary as it transitions into a security-as-a-service company.

Cloudera, the enterprise cloud data company, called said its call to lay off people during a pandemic was a "difficult decision."  Nonetheless, “COVID-19’s sustained disruption to the global economy has prompted Cloudera to perform a comprehensive analysis to identify ways we can adjust our organization to persevere through the crisis," the company told Channel Partners.

Also, a story on CenturyLink layoffs from February was still going strong. We learned CenturyLink would cut 300 jobs by May 29 because of "continuous assessment of business needs and workforce realigment."
Oracle Talari Combined logo

#2 — 20 Top SD-WAN Providers for 2020

SD-WAN is hot, hot, hot! Indeed, the pandemic isn't slowing the technology's popularity.

For the third straight year, we asked analysts and members of the Channel Partners Advisory Board which companies we should be watching. And you took their suggestions to heart.

Check out our list of 20 Top SD-WAN Providers for 2020, and learn why they made it.
MetTel logo

#1 — Frontier Sells Northwest Operations

Our story about Frontier selling its Pacific Northwest operations caught your attention in a big way. The Frontier-Ziply Fiber handoff also drew fire in our comments section from consumers who expressed displeasure at the change.

Now Ziply Fiber in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, the new company formed when Frontier sold some assets to a private equity partnership. Frontier filed for bankruptcy in April. The Northwest sale eliminated some of its debt.

"I didn’t think that Frontier could get any worse, but you folks are proving me wrong," wrote one Channel Partners reader. "Our internet is dropping 6 to 8 times daily for various lengths of time. We are still paying the bill with very poor internet."

Articles about Frontier dominated our website in May; we combined several from the top 10 here in the top spot. We outlined it all in this timeline of events, from the first inklings of bankruptcy to the Ziply sale.

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