Brightspeed Exec Details Plans for the Channel Post-Lumen Sale

"We are designing the entire organization to be collaborative and partner-friendly," an executive said.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

August 16, 2022

4 Min Read
Football playbook

Brightspeed executives said the company’s go-to-market strategy will cater to partners following the completion of the Lumen ILEC divestiture.

Lumen announced a year ago that it was selling the majority of its incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) business to private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Lumen retained its ILEC operations in most western states, as well as Florida. Late in 2021 Apollo announced the branding of its new ILEC assets. It said Brightspeed will target historically underdeveloped areas for fiber investment. That initiative corresponds with the massive investment the federal government is making in broadband with the Infrastructure Act.

Since then, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company has secured regulatory approval in its 20 states and announced plans to build out its fiber network footprint in those areas. In addition, the company has been building out its team. That includes business-focused and channel-focused sales executives.


Source: Brightspeed

Last year Lumen channel leader Dave Young indicated that it was business as usual for partners selling ILEC services in the affected states. Now Brightspeed’s channel engagement strategy is taking shape. Andy Rodriguez, Brightspeed’s vice president of enterprise sales, fielded questions from Channel Futures about Brightspeed’s partner strategy.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

Channel Futures: Does Brightspeed plan to sell through channel partners? Channel partners include both value-added resellers and commission-based agents.


Brightspeed’s Andy Rodriguez

Andy Rodriguez: Yes. We are very excited to announce that Brightspeed is developing a partner program, and it will be a critical channel in our distribution strategy. We are excited to be working with the partner community to drive our mutual success. More details will be available as we approach the close date of the transaction with Lumen.

CF: What is Brightspeed’s current strategy for working with channel partners? Lumen’s ILEC business, now part of Brightspeed, partnered with a variety of technology service distributors (formerly known as master agents). Does Brightspeed plan to sign similar contracts, and if so, will it be a similar number to what Lumen did?

AR: Brightspeed is developing its own partner agreement. In the near term, we will offer this agreement to the larger technology services distributors (TSDs) that are affiliated with revenue and commissions transferred from Lumen. Eventually, we will expand our relationships and offer this agreement to new TSDs. Brightspeed will provide partners with a source for fiber-based services and over-the-top voice and managed solutions that will be industry-leading in markets that have been historically underserved. Agents with a Brightspeed business that are not set up [through a TSD], will also have a plan in place. We believe Brightspeed’s unique position in the marketplace will allow us to create a meaningful and distinguished partner program.

CF: Brightspeed has been announcing a series of personnel appointments. What partner-facing roles is it filling out?


Brightspeed’s Bob Uphoff

AR: We are pleased to announce that Bob Uphoff will join our team to lead the indirect channel. Bob has been a critical member of Lumen’s channel sales team for the last 10 years as a director of business development and chief of staff. Bob brings a wealth of channel experience to Brightspeed. He has worked with and learned from some of the industry’s best channel leaders. Anyone who has had the pleasure to work with Bob knows that he will lead this business well and it will be a win-win for partners, customers and for Brightspeed.

Our vision for the indirect channel is broad and comprehensive. We are designing and developing the entire organization to be collaborative and partner-friendly. Whether your role is in direct sales or indirect sales, we will all be responsible for providing an excellent partner experience. Brightspeed is focused on the success of our partners as an entire organization.

CF: Does the company have a plan in place for how its direct sales force will interact with Brightspeed channel partners? For example, will Brightspeed incentivize them to sell alongside channel partners? Will you lock certain accounts?

AR: Yes. Our strategy will tightly integrate our indirect and direct sales teams. Again, we are building a partner-friendly culture throughout the sales organization. Everyone on the team – field sales, inside sales, sales engineering and customer success – will have a responsibility to engage and develop partner relationships in their territories. Our compensation plan will be competitive and mutually beneficial.

Our partner-friendly culture will permeate everything we are developing — from our people to our policy and compensation, to our systems and processes. We believe that this strategy will make us easy to do business with and provide an industry leading partner experience.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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