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Top 12 Stories in March: AT&T, Verizon, Tops in UCaaS, SD-WAN

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Twelve big pieces of news “marched” into our countdown of last month’s biggest stories.

You really wanted to know who made our lists of 20 top UCaaS and SD-WAN providers. Also showing up here: Verizon’s CEO made headlines for something he said, but the carrier got slapped with a big fine and said it was closing call centers.

Rival AT&T also shows up twice in the countdown — and just like Verizon, once for positive reasons and once for not-so-happy news.

What else? How about a profile of Comcast’s Craig Schlagbaum – one of our newly anointed Channel Influencers – and an introduction to the newest members of our Channel Partners Advisory Boards?

And those are just some of the stories you’ll find in our top 12 from March. Our rankings are an aggregate of online page views and our weekly newsletter results. (You can sign up for that here.)

Which story made it all the way to the top of our leaderboard? Click through our gallery below to find out!

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

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
#12 — Plantonics' Polycom Buy Gets Mixed Reviews

Plantronics said late in the month that it would scoop up Polycom, the conferencing and collaboration provider, in a cash-and-stock deal worth $2 billion. This came just a year and a half after Polycom sold to a private-equity firm.

Plantronics, the headset-maker, expects the purchase will position it to grab more opportunities in the $40 billion unified communications and collaboration (UCC) market. The transaction got the green light from the boards of directors at both companies. Look for it to close by the end of September.

Analysts we spoke with about the deal had differing opinions, from being a "significant opportunity" for the combined company, to potentially "creating some conflicts with vendor loyalty."
Telesystem's Mike Bilik
#11 — Channel People on the Move

We had some hot posts this month, so much so that they almost knocked a staple – our Channel People on the Move feature – off the board. But not quite.

You still wanted to know who got hired and promoted where. This edition featured moves at Frontier, TBI, AireSpring and more.
Zen Lounge Think
#10 — AT&T's Randall Porter

AT&T's Randall Porter

AT&T's Randall Porter

AT&T makes the first of two appearances on our list this month.

Our James Anderson sat down with Randall Porter for his first one-on-one interview since being appointed vice president of AT&T Partner Exchange, the carrier's channel program geared toward solution providers.

Porter covered a number of topics, including recent changes with the program; fiber and IoT opportunities; and the transition in leadership.
John Teltsch
#9 — Verizon CEO on Industry Disruption

You probably don't have to look much beyond your own business to see how much the industry is being disrupted by new technologies and new business models.

Also in its first of two appearances on our countdown is Verizon. Our Lynn Haber reported on Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam's stage session with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at IBM Think. Rometty asked McAdam what he makes of telecom today.

“There really isn’t a name for it anymore because it’s become amorphous," he told her. "When we started Verizon back in 2000 we controlled the vertical and we monetized the entire stack. The day the iPhone was announced, it just turned that around. There’s been a move for us to become more horizontal – just a communications company – and you see us competing with, but partnering with, those trying to disrupt us."

Read more of what McAdam had to say.
John Teltsch
#8 — Channel Partners' New Advisory Board

An item we first published in February caught your eye last month. You wanted to see who was selected for the prestigious 2018-19 Channel Partners Advisory Board.

We have both a Business Advisory Board and an Editorial Advisory Board. Members contribute input and expert guidance in the development of Channel Partners' publications and programs.

Channel Partners and Channel Futures have united under one editorial banner, and to that end, members of the Editorial Advisory Board will contribute to both sites, covering the full channel and technology spectrum.
John Teltsch
#7 — Splunk's Messaging 'a Tad Weak'

No doubt this headline boosted this story into our top 12.

An Argus Research analyst gave Splunk a positive outlook and said it could become an acquisition target for a large enterprise software firm. But some analysts pumped the brakes just a bit.

"Splunk’s messaging is a tad bit weak," Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan's Mike Jude told us. Nevertheless, Splunk is on the competitive radar screens of the largest market players and would make a good acquisition target for some of them; although there aren’t many that could consume such a large target.”
Marketing
#6 — Channel Influencer Spotlight: Craig Schlagbaum

Comcast's Craig Schlagbaum

Comcast's Craig Schlagbaum

One of the best-known faces in the channel, Comcast Business' Craig Schlagbaum, was the center of our first feature on Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencer honorees, who originally were recognized in our January digital issue.

Schlagbaum reflected on his success at the cable company, and also his legacy at Qwest-Level 3. It's a must-read for any partners and colleagues who have worked with Craig over these many years
5 in 5
#5 — Sungard AS Hosted Private Cloud

A lot of you were interested in learning about the new hosted private cloud from Sungard AS, which expanded its partnership with Dell Technologies. The new offering uses Dell EMC storage and compute, as well as VMware's NSX network virtualization platform.

Sungard AS says its Hosted Private Cloud provides single-tenant resource control along with added security and performance.
IBM Think Opening
#4 — AT&T Layoffs

Bad news lingers sometimes. Our story about layoffs at AT&T, first published way back on Jan. 2, once again cracked our countdown, making it clear up to No. 4.

Reports on the number of job cuts ranged from the hundreds to thousands, impacting personnel all over the country. This batch of layoffs left a bad taste in some people's mouths, particularly because the company handed out tax-law bonuses at the end of 2017.
IBM Think Opening
#3 — 20 Top SD-WAN Providers

Man, did we get your attention with our new "CP List" series. The second, which featured 20 top SD-WAN providers you should know, lit up the internet like a Christmas tree.

The list is not a ranking; they are in no particular order. We polled analysts and members of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board to see which companies are continuously innovating — offering a wide range of options, and effective support and simplicity, in the highly competitive field of SD-WAN.

Your company didn't make the list? That doesn't mean you didn't deserve it; your name just didn't happen to come up among those we polled.
IBM Think Opening
#2 — Verizon's Giant Fine, Call Center Closures

It's the second appearance for Verizon on our list, but this one isn't for great news.

The FCC fined the company a record $614 million for the sins of one of its acquired companies. Straight Path Communications, which Verizon purchased on March 1, failed to use the spectrum licenses allotted to it by the FCC.

“Straight Path admits that an internal investigation determined that the equipment deployed in connection with the build-out of its 39 GHz spectrum band licenses was put in place only for a short period of time and that a significant amount of the installed equipment was no longer present at the original locations at the time of the investigation," wrote the Commission's Chief Enforcement Bureau. "In short, the investigation found that Straight Path had not actually deployed equipment with any permanency."

Less than two weeks later, Verizon said it would transition seven of its U.S. call centers to a 100 percent home-based agent (HBA) model, a move the carrier touts as convenient for employees, but one the CWA union said will kill jobs for those who can't set up an adequate workspace at home.
Fireside Chat T/W
#1 — 20 Top UCaaS Providers

Remember the popularity of the new "CP List" series we mentioned as the No. 3 story? Well, you were even more interested in the "20 Top UCaaS Providers."

Like with the SD-WAN list, this isn't a ranking. We asked our advisory board members and analysts to tell us who should be on it. They said a successful UCaaS provider battles for market share in an increasingly competitive environment while adhering to a constantly growing list of requirements to please customers.

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