CenturyLink Buys Level3

CenturyLink.jpgMONROE, La - CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications, Inc.  today announced that their Boards of Directors have unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which CenturyLink will acquire Level 3 in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $34 billion, including the assumption of debt. Under terms of the agreement, Level 3 shareholders will receive $26.50 per share in cash and a fixed exchange ratio of 1.4286 shares of CenturyLink stock for each Level 3 share they own, which implies a purchase price of $66.50 per Level 3 share (based on a CenturyLink $28.00 per share reference price) and a premium of approximately 42 percent based on Level 3's unaffected closing share price of $46.92 on October 26, 2016, the last trading day prior to market speculation about a potential transaction. Upon the closing of the transaction, CenturyLink shareholders will own approximately 51 percent and Level 3 shareholders will own approximately 49 percent of the combined company.

The combined company will have the ability to offer CenturyLink's larger enterprise customer base the benefits of Level 3's global footprint with a combined presence in more than 60 countries. In addition, the combined company will be positioned to further invest in the reach and speeds of its broadband infrastructure for small businesses and consumers.

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Masergy Sold to Berkshire Partners

chris_macfarland.jpgBoston, Mass. - Berkshire Partners LLC, a Boston-based investment firm, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in Masergy Communications, Inc. ("Masergy"). Masergy is a leading global service provider offering innovative hybrid networking, managed security and cloud communications solutions to medium and large enterprise customers.

Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Masergy is the largest independent managed services provider in the world, serving enterprise clients in over 75 countries. The company's unique and differentiated Software Defined Platform delivers global solutions with unmatched flexibility and performance. By combining this technology with an utmost focus on customer support and service delivery, Masergy consistently delivers the industry’s best client experience as evidenced by its 2016 Net Promoter Score of 70.

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Notes from "2nd Largest" Agency Sandler Partners' 1st Partner Summit

Southern California based master agency/distributor Sandler Partners (who recently acquired Chicago based master agency X4 Solutions & claimed "2nd largest" services distributor status behind Intelisys/ScanSource) hosted their first "Partner Summit" in Redondo Beach, California October 6th.

Sandler is known for being a reasonably well rated master agency but alot of agents & MSPs don't know about Sandler because owner Alan Sandler is notoriously thrifty when it comes to spending marketing dollars. After their recent X4 acquisition though it appears that Alan's staff have finally convinced Alan to open the marketing checkbook.

I signed up as a Sandler subagent a couple years back in order to experiment with hosted provider RingCentral so I got an invitation to the event. Following are my notes.


The event started at 8am in a large meeting room with good lighting, audio and a hot breakfast you can eat while listening to two hours of basic product training where the product training is done by Sandler staff instead of vendor employees.

The best master agencies have experienced in-house product sales engineers who train their sub-agents as opposed to having the training done by carrier vendor employees. This is important because master agencies that have in-house trainers can better sort through service vendors and pick the best ones to represent.

Sandler Sales Director Jess Bryar Sharing Cloud Computing Training 

Other initial impression positives include: paid parking, hot breakfast & coffee, printed guide (not just an app), free & good WiFi, in-house trainers, tables for laptops (not just seats), good PA systems (so you can hear the speakers). The only bad - no electric at the table to keep laptop & phones charged.



Cloud UC/Hosted Voice Phone Systems (Curt Allen & Caleb Tucker);

SD-WAN (Eric Beller & Tim Tucker);

Cloud Computing Office 365, Backup as a Service, Disaster Recovery as a Service (Jess Bryar & Todd Peterson)  What is your 2017 cloud strategy (AWS or Azure)? What are you doing for backups? Cloud email/Office 365 strategy? Do you have hardware or software refreshes planned?



Ride the Big Waves Rauline Ochs/IPED - The Channel Company



Cloud UC/Hosted Voice: Choosing the Best Provider for Your Customer (Moderator - Curt Allen, Sandler/XO; Panelists - Jim Murphy/Broadvoice; Marek Wasilewski/Mitel; Gregg Rowe/Vonage)

Cloud Connectivity: Key to Cloud Success (Moderator - Todd Peterson, Sandler/X4; Panelists - John Muscarella/Cox Business; Craig Schlagbaum/Comcast; Tom McCrosson/Solex; John Cunnels/XO Communications)

SD-WAN: A New Approach to Agile Networks (Moderator - Eric Beller, Sandler/X4; Panelists - David Zahn/TelePacific; William Madison/Masergy; Darren French/ZeroOutages; Mike Frane/EarthLink)

Cloud Computing: Jumpstart Your As-a-Service Sales Engine (Moderator - Jess Bryar, Sandler/X4; Panalists - Jim Dietler/NaviSite; Steve Sigmon/Birch)



To the Edge and Back Greg Long/Surfrider Foundation

Julie Dzubay Joins WTG as VP of Sales Operations

jd.jpgMalibu, Calif. -- WTG, a Connectivity Services Distributor and one of the top Master Agents in the U.S., announced today, that Julie Dzubay joins WTG as Vice President of Sales Operations. Dzubay is responsible foroverseeing the company's sales organization. She brings 27+ years of successful sales leadership and experience within the industry. She reports directly to CEO, Vince Bradley.

Bradley stated, "I am extremely excited to have someone with Julie’s sales operations experience managing the sales team. Her extensive knowledge and her solid history of successful project and program development made her the perfect candidate for this position.

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Intelisys Wins Inaugural Channel Partner Program Summit Award

L3-Summit-1.jpgBROOMFIELD, Colo., - At an awards luncheon, Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), recognized Intelisys, a technology services distributor and master agent, with its inaugural Channel Partner Program Summit Award. Intelisys received the honor for reaching a significant revenue milestone as an Elite member of Level 3’s Channel Partner Program.

“Intelisys has built a solid reputation with its sales partners by providing outstanding value-add services and carrier solutions to solve customer challenges,” said Garrett Gee, indirect channel chief, Level 3. “We are proud to recognize their accomplishment with our first-ever Summit Award and appreciate the long-term relationship with Level 3.”

In its ten year history working with Level 3, Intelisys has optimized the independent sales channel experience to raise the standards for how business telecommunications services and cloud services are bought and sold for the greater benefit of end-user customers.

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Masergy Receives 2016 Channel Program Award

chuck_ward.jpgDALLAS - Masergy Communications Inc. today announced that its Global Partner Program has received a 2016 Internet Telephony Channel Excellence Award. The award honors the company for its channel ecosystem, which helps partners deliver the highest level of service to customers for hybrid networking, managed security and cloud communications solutions. 

Channel partners are an important part of tech companies' go-to-market strategies, but not all channel programs are created equal. Masergy has been recognized for going the extra mile when it comes to supporting the channel with tools, information, education and remuneration.

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Intelisys Sold To ScanSource

mike_baur.jpgGreenville, SC -  ScanSource, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCSC), a leading global provider of technology products and solutions, today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Intelisys Communications, Inc., the industry-leading technology services distributor of business telecommunications and cloud services. With 2015 gross commissions of $120 million, Intelisys distributes services for the world’s leading telecom carriers, cable companies, cloud services providers and technology partners through the channel’s top producing sales partners.

ScanSource broadens its capabilities by entering the telecom and cloud services market with the acquisition of Intelisys. In the United States, small and medium-sized businesses spend an estimated $150 billion on telecom services. Approximately 10% of this market is currently served by the indirect channel, creating a large and growing addressable channel market for Intelisys and its sales partners. In addition, the market dynamics favor Intelisys’ two-tier services-based business model with an expected growth of business opportunities for the indirect channel.

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NewCloud Adds Channel Manager

Natasha_Podgorski.jpgEnglewood, Colo. - NewCloud Networks is pleased to announce the newest addition to our team, Natasha Podgorski, Nationwide Channel Manager. Natasha has over 4 years of experience in the channel and continues to prove herself to be a consistent factor within the partner community. An alumna of University of Colorado Boulder, Natasha credits her achievements in channel management to understanding the importance of fostering mutually beneficial partnerships.

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A Great Business Telemarketing Pitch with Just One Fatal Flaw...

I was recently forwarded a semi-effective business telemarketing voicemail message left for a business customer from a TelePacific sales person which you can listen to by clicking on the icon at the bottom of this blog post.

For those of you unfamiliar with TelePacific, they're a California business phone company (or CLEC - competitive local exchange carrier) that also does a bit of business in Nevada & Texas. TelePacific is mostly known for fairly aggressive pricing and outbound sales. Which brings us to the point of this blog post.

The transcript of the telemarketing voicemail message is as follows:

"My name is Saundra with TelePacific Communications. And I'm just calling about your account with TW Telecom. And just wanted to touch base with you before your account renews to give you a couple more options. We've recently upgraded the infrastructure in your area allowing us to give you faster internet for a lower price. So give me a call at 949-465-2352. Again, this is Saundra from TelePacific Communications and my number is 949-465-2352."



A) She says who she is & why she's calling.

B) She suggests an understanding of the call recipient's account - they have a TW Telecom contract coming up for renewal.

C) She's offering "options" - faster internet at a lower price due to recent "infrastructure upgrades"


Second: THE BAD


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Telarus Adds New Vendor

IPitimi-partnership2.pngSandy, Ut. - Telarus Inc., master agent and owner of VXSuite and national distributor of voice, data and cloud infrastructure services, today announced that it has entered into a partnership with IPitimi, Inc., a global provider of managed services and hosted unified communications.  

With a focus on tailor-made solutions, including unified communications, call center, and business intelligence solutions, IPitimi brings a unique approach to the channel by catering to an eclectic range of customer requirements by providing custom integrations and applications development. The newly formed partnership with Telarus allows IPitimi to strengthen and expand their reach within the channel, providing a robust catalog of services.

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MetTel's Suite Deal For Telarus Agents

Andoni-Economou2.jpgNew York
- MetTel, a leading communications solutions provider for enterprise businesses, today announced a strategic partnership with Telarus Inc., master agent and owner of VXSuite and national distributor of voice, data and cloud infrastructure services. The partnership provides the Telarus network of partner agents access to MetTel's premiere suite of services, offering scalable and cost-effective platforms for enterprises with complex communications requirements.

Organizations that select MetTel services through the Telarus portfolio will now to be able to easily deploy and manage technology-driven voice, data, wireless and cloud solutions, while taking advantage of tier-1 and regional network providers for streamlined services.

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Google Fiber Going Wireless

gf.jpgMountain View, Calif - Google took steps this week to speed-up nationwide deployment of its Google Fiber service through the acquisition of wireless ISP WebPass.

The wireless provider already offers service at Gigabit speeds in markets such as Miami, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and San Diego. In addition to offering wireless connectivity to homes and businesses in these areas it also provides backhaul service through its own integrated Ethernet network. Acquisition of these networks would help Google to more rapidly expand its own fiber-based service which currently operates in Atlanta, Kansas City, Provo, Nashville and Austin, Texas.

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Guess How Long it Takes Windstream to Forward One Number...

I don't know what it is about airplane reservations that cause my customer's phone systems to break but every time I'm about to leave for the airport on a business trip one of my client's old phone systems die.

So my customer uses Windstream to trunk an ancient Lucent phone system and it seems the line card in the Lucent has died because my customer's employees can call each other on the different extensions but they can't call out and calls to their main number get a fast busy.

The customer called Windstream first and Windstream stated they were getting a clear signal to their equipment but the customer's phone system did not seem to be responding. 

So the customer emailed me the ticket number and I asked her if she wanted me to have Windstream call forward her main number to a temporary voicemail box that would take a message, transcribe it and then email it to her. She said that would be great since we didn't know how long it would take to fix the phone system.

So I called the repair number on the Windstream bill at 7am Eastern on a Tuesday. The recording says my expected wait time is 8 minutes. 

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WTG's 2016 Tee & Sea Report

I had the pleasure of attending WTG's annual "Tee & Sea" event May 11 - 13 and following is an overview.

The event agenda & the major event sponsors. It's always enlightening to see which vendors are picking up the tab for the agents to learn & play for three days.

Agents at the first day vendor seminars. the guy in the bottom right reflects the general opinion of many agents after the tenth vendor in a row says "It's our customer service & people that make us unique among our competitors!"

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CWA Strike Hits AT&T West Coast Operations (UPDATED)

12.jpgSAN DIEGO - Approximately 4,000 union workers throughout the State of California have gone on strike, according to The Communications Workers of America.

Although the CWA settled a much larger contract dispute with AT&T Mobility this past week, some employees in California have still not agreed to terms and are striking in part as a protest against what they categorize as unfair labor practices. The main dispute seems to center around CWA AT&T employees being reassigned to other duties without any prior notification to their union.

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Master Agent Recovers "Lost" Commissions

alan-sandler.jpgLOS ANGELES - Sandler Partners, America’s fastest growing distributor of connectivity and cloud services, announced today that its groundbreaking Commissions Integrity Program, which proactively audits commissions and SPIFF payments to its agent partners, has recovered $2 million for agent partners since the program was introduced in January 2013. Unlike the commissions recovery programs of other master agencies that require agents to report missing compensation, the Sandler Partners program proactively audits commission payments on behalf of its partners.

“We are fortunate to be working with the best agents in the business,” said Alan Sandler, founder and managing partner of Sandler Partners. “When you’re working with the best, you want them to be able to focus on growing their businesses and taking care of their customers, not being caught in the trap of having to earn their commissions twice — first selling the customer and again when they have to hound their master agency to track down their payments.

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Telarus Adds California RVP

jay-littleford.pngSANDY, Utah - Telarus, Inc., master agent of business data, voice, cloud, and data center services, today announced it has hired industry-veteran, Jay Littleford, as its new regional vice president of California. In this role, Littleford will be in charge of helping existing Telarus partners expand their business, as well as recruiting new partners. Littleford comes to Telarus with more than 16 years of industry experience working for Level 3, Windstream, TelePacific, Integra (Electric Lightwave), and CenturyLink.

“We are excited to welcome Jay Littleford to our team,” says Doug Tolley, SVP of sales for Telarus. “Jay is a seasoned veteran who understand how to attract top-selling partners and help them develop strategies to grow their business. From his time at both Level 3 and Windstream, we have been able to see first-hand how effective he is on sales performance as a result of his relentless focus on partner satisfaction. That, combined with his brilliant technical understanding of the products we sell, will be a huge asset for our partners in California.”

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Telecom Brokers Adds Channel Partner

nancy-ridge.jpgSAN DIEGO - Telecom Brokers' portfolio of leading edge technology providers just got a little bigger today. The Orange County based telecommunications consulting firm has been steadily growing since 1998. The addition of Effortless signals not only a new partnership for the two companies, but also shows Telecom Brokers' readiness to fuel the steady uptick in business' desire to offload the IT department's routine tasks like adding new users, upgrading software, and making simple changes to the individual users in the company. The private all-in-the-cloud model Effortless provides is one their clients claim not only saves them money on staffing, but adds additional security and freedoms they never thought possible. 

Nancy Ridge, Executive Vice President of Telecom Brokers said, "one of the key areas Telecom Brokers and its partners serve is the SMB market. They represent one of the biggest segments of our business yet have been under-served by cloud providers. Effortless will fill that need. They bring the technology, the know-how and the focus to our SMB customers."

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Windstream Names New Ops SVP

beth-lackey.pngLITTLE ROCK – Windstream (NASDAQ: WIN), a leading provider of advanced network communications, today announced that Beth A. Lackey has been appointed senior vice president of carrier operations. In this new role - specifically created to support the company's ongoing commitment to providing an exceptional experience for its carrier and wholesale customers - Lackey will oversee service delivery, service assurance, and the customer experience team for the carrier business unit.

As Windstream continues expanding and enhancing its network, Lackey will lead and guide initiatives to assess current internal business processes, analyzing the results in order to build and implement efficiencies that enhance the overall carrier customer experience - from order entry to the ongoing service of customers.

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Telarus Adds RingCentral Via Channel

Patrick Oborn of TelarusBELMONT, Calif. - RingCentral (NYSE:RNG), a leading provider of cloud business communication and collaboration solutions, today announced its new master agent partnership with Telarus, a market leader for distribution of network, unified communications and cloud services. The announcement comes on the heels of RingCentral’s Q1 2016 earnings results, which showed significant year-over-year performance growth, driven in part by the company’s strongest quarter ever from the indirect channel. With the addition of Telarus to its partner program, RingCentral aims to build on the great channel momentum it has already established in 2016.

“There has been an inflection point in the market where larger enterprise customers are starting to demand cloud solutions like never before,” said Patrick Oborn, co-founder of Telarus. “Our partners have asked for RingCentral, as they are committed to providing market-leading UC services and solutions to their customers. We are thrilled to add RingCentral to our supplier portfolio."

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CNSG 2016 Partner Forum & Golf Tournament

CNSG Golf EventIt's almost time for CNSG's Partner Forum & Golf Tournament! Spaces are filling up quick! Make sure you register today...This is the event that you don't want to miss!


Verizon Strike Getting Nasty

cut-cable.jpgNEW YORK - A strike at Verizon's wireline division by two separate unions is now dragging into its third week with both sides leveling a series of accusations against each other in the media. Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) voted to go on strike in April after failing to reach a new contract with the carrier. Wages, benefits and the movement of jobs offshore are said to be the main concern of the two unions as the company looks to downsize its copper-based network.

Last week, the carrier announced that it was aggressively investigating a rash of service interruptions to customers that it claimed were the direct result of sabotage. There have been at least 49 such incidents since the beginning of the strike where as during a normal year the carrier said it might average 11 such incidents. Although not directly blamed for the incidents, the CWA released a counter statement denying any knowledge and instead blaming the network outages on Verizon for poor maintenance of its facilities.

This week the CWA has began making its own accusations against the company, filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission stating that Verizon is forcing wireline customers to move from copper to fiber-based delivery in violation of FCC regulations. The complaint was co-signed by a number of consumer interest and lobbying groups such as Common Cause, Public Knowledge, USAction and Citizen Action of New York.

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CNSG Adds Channel Sales Director

anne-brogan.jpgCHARLOTTE -
Converged Network Services Group (CNSG), the Premier Master Agency for Cloud, Connectivity, and Cloud Enablement is pleased to announce the hiring of Anne Brogan as Director, Channel Sales in CNSG’s Atlanta office.

Anne comes to CNSG with over two decades of telecommunications experience in the partner channel. Holding positions in areas of business development, sales, marketing and network operations. She has also been a proven cultivator of national and regional channel growth, as well as a passionate and effective communicator and partner resource.

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CNSG Adds BCN Services

randy-friedberg.jpgCHARLOTTE - Converged Network Services Group (CNSG), the premier master agent for Cloud, Connectivity, and Cloud Enablement, and BCN, a privately held and management owned non-facilities based CLEC have announced their partnership.

Recognized as a channel-friendly telecommunications provider with more than 75 unique wholesale network providers, BCN offers a single-source solution for custom-configured, flawlessly provisioned and meticulously maintained voice, data, wireless, and cloud services. Together with CNSG, BCN will engage and enable more telecom agents to define and deliver advanced connectivity solutions that bring simplicity to inherently complex multi-location, multi-network opportunities.

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MicroCorp Adds New Partner Manager

DavidBurgeson.pngMARIETTA, Ga - MicroCorp, a distributor of commercial data, voice, UC, security and data center services, announced today that it has named David Burgeson as its new Strategic Partner Manager to lead sales and business development efforts in the company’s rapidly growing Texas and southwest territories.

Burgeson joins MicroCorp following a deep career in the channel as both a partner and provider. Burgeson’s channel experience began as Director of Business Development for Louisiana-based solution provider, Global Data Systems. He then spent more than ten years with industry-leading providers. Most notably, are his 8 years with Time Warner Cable, rising through the ranks to lead the agent channel in the Texas market.

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