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February 28, 2007
Level 3 Communications Inc. is putting the finishing touches on the integration of Broadwing Communications LLCs partners into its indirect channel program. Preliminary feedback indicates agents and resellers welcome the terms and conditions Level 3 has put together even though, as of press time, complete details were not available.
Level 3 completed its $1.4 billion acquisition of Broadwing in early January.
Brad Miehl, CEO of master agency MicroCorp, says Level 3 is treating agents fairly. The company is honoring legacy Broadwing agreements by continuing to pay on that revenue and allowing the numbers to count toward agent commitments on new Level 3 agreements. As far as the integration goes, that will take some time, but that is OK, as I am grateful to see an agent-friendly Tier 1 carrier enter the marketplace, he says.
Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), which last year was named Broadwings top biller, also is looking forward to being a part of Level 3s Master Agent Business Partner Program. President Geoff Shepstone says Level 3 is making the contract conversion easy on partners such as TBI.
Craig Schlagbaum whose title has changed to vice president of national partner sales and programs says his duties have evolved now that Level 3 has combined the programs, products and services of the seven companies it has acquired since late 2005. Level 3s partner program will be structured like this: Schlagbaum oversees a team that manages very large master agents, and that will stay separate from Level 3s supervision of subagents and indirect agents in the field. Essentially, even though it is a telco, Level 3 is emulating the value-added reseller model perfected by distributors such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Ingram Micro, says Schlagbaum. Its kind of a push-pull strategy, which is unique in the industry, where we support master agents as a vehicle for distribution to subagents and then, in the field, those subagents and direct agents get direct, hands-on support from our partner sales managers, he explains.
Level 3s whole tactic is to equip agents to compete in a consolidating marketplace. To that end, Schlagbaum says the company is seeking quality, rather than quantity, in its master agents and, therefore, will only contract with about 15 of them. This is going to be a very select group, he says. Level 3 will profile potential master agent partners and even do site visits to make sure their back offices and personnel can handle various functions.
Theres a lot about the Broadwing program and portfolio that Level 3 intends to keep such as Broadwings MPLS and enterprise voice services although there are some services it will discard. As more agents target up-market SMBs and enterprises, Level 3 will offer the services those entities demand. Agents will be able to sell high-speed, IP and direct Internet access offerings, as well as metro Ethernet, VPNs, colocation and toll-free and voice termination, and more, Schlagbaum says.
This isnt going to be a focused portfolio like the kind youd find from a CLEC. So, more likely than not, Level 3 will phase out products such as switched long-distance and PRIs, although, at press time, Schlagbaum couldnt share particulars.
Level 3 plans to share additional details of its integration of Broadwings partner program at the Spring 2007 Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 4-6, in Las Vegas. One of the most pressing matters is the question of money. Schlagbaum did say agents Broadwing business will count toward Level 3 commissions. Were not going to ask them to start from zero, he says.
Other features of the amalgamated program will include extensive training opportunities, marketing development funds for master agents and a certification program that demonstrates partners know the technologies theyre selling. Level 3 also will incorporate some of Broadwings quoting and support tools into its agent portal.
Read more about:Agents
Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC. Follow her on LinkedIn at /kellyteal/.
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