Wishing you and yours a blessed & safe holiday season.
Please enjoy our Christmas video greeting to our association family!
ICTa today announced they've published 33 new telecom voice and data news websites that targeting business end-users.
The news websites listed below are specifically designed to introduce business end-users to the top partners and vendors that specialize in particular cloud, connectivity and phone disciplines.
Association members with strong recommendations in each discipline category can apply to qualify for a 2017 "5 Star" or "Editor's Choice" award for each of the news websites.
In addition, each news website refers business end-users to the association's "Recommended Solution Providers Directory" also known as the "ICT List" which association members are also eligible to get listed on.
If you are interested in qualifying for these awards or getting listed on our ICT List, please click here for more information about our 2017 awards and then contact [email protected].
Following are the new telecom related news websites:
It's December so it's time to complete our 2016 Partners Choice and Customers Choice Awards as well as deliver our 2017 Recommended Partner & Recommended Vendor Awards.
This is the 10th year we've done our awards and we try to improve them each year. This year we have expanded our agent partner awards as well as added an award for support staff such as agent managers, sales engineers, project managers, etc.
To win an award you must first be nominated and then get people to vote for you. It may seem cumbersome but it's really very easy.
To get started nominating yourself or someone else, click on the Awards link for all the instructions you need as well as a video tutorial.
Then click on the Nominate link to create your nomination so you can distribute the link to people who will vote for you.
Nominations are open until 1/15/17. Voting is open until 1/31/17. All awards will be announced 2/1/17.
Good luck and let us know what questions you have?
Little Rock and Atlanta – Windstream Holdings, Inc. and EarthLink Holdings Corp. today announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which Windstream and EarthLink will merge in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $1.1 billion, including debt.
Under the terms of the agreement, EarthLink shareholders will receive 0.818 shares of Windstream common stock for each EarthLink share owned. This ratio represents a 13 percent premium to the average exchange ratio of 0.721x over the month ended Nov. 3, 2016, the most recent unaffected trading day. Windstream expects to issue approximately 93 million shares of stock valued at approximately $673 million, based on the company's closing stock price on Nov. 4, 2016. Upon closing of the transaction, Windstream shareholders will own approximately 51 percent and EarthLink shareholders will own approximately 49 percent of the combined company.Read more
Atlanta, Ga. – Birch Communications, Inc., (“Birch”) a leading provider of communications, network and cloud services to small, mid-sized, enterprise and wholesale businesses across North America, announced the appointment of Joseph Haines as its new Vice President of Advanced Services and Support, effective immediately. In this role, Haines assumes responsibility for Field Operations, the Network Operations Center, and Advanced Services Activation and Support groups at the company. Haines will report directly to Jim O’Brien, EVP and Chief Operating Officer at Birch.
O’Brien said, “Joe has a proven track record in leading Tier 2 & Tier 3 operations centers and field technicians with the highest degree of focus on the customer. I am excited about the future of our newly expanded Advanced Services group and to have Joe leading this team. In addition to the TotalCloud® PBX product roll-out we announced this week, we look forward to releasing additional cloud solutions in the coming months, and Joe’s experience will play a critical role to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations."Read more
Marietta, GA – MicroCorp, a distributor of commercial data, voice, UC and data center services, is expanding its cloud service portfolio with the addition of Bigleaf Networks, Effortless and Unitas Global. The addition of these service providers supports MicroCorp’s focus in helping its more than 2000 selling partners to position cloud within their growing base of enterprise accounts.
“Our partners routinely bring to us complex bids that require the expertise of multiple providers if we’re to deliver a complete solution,” commented Phil Keenan, MicroCorp President. “Our role as a master agency is to assist our partners in expanding every sales opportunity to ensure the solution is customized and complete. This requires the resources and savvy of both national and niche providers."
MONROE, 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.Read more
Boston, 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.Read more
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.
101 TRAINING PROVIDED
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
Malibu, 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.Read more
BROOMFIELD, 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.Read more
DALLAS - 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.Read more
Greenville, 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.Read more
Englewood, 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.Read more
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."
First: THE GOOD
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
Sandy, 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.Read more
New 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.Read more
Mountain 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.Read more
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.Read more
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!"Read more
SAN 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.Read more
LOS 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.Read more
SANDY, 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.”Read more
SAN 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."Read more