Here's my take on the Top 11 stories in telecom of 2011.
1. Shane McNamara being named VP of the Indirect Channel at XO. It was a shock pick for many in the industry.
2. TNCI Bankruptcy! I understand that the reseller model has been taking a huge beating in the last 3 years, but when you start off hawking "Agent Equity", you need to be better fudiciary stewarts than this.
3. WIND-PAETEC merger - I just didn't see that one coming. It did prove my point about the difference in running a private company as opposed to a public one, who is a slave to Wall Street.
4. Qwest getting bought by CenturyLink - and then CL buying Savvis. It was a big shopping spree. I thought it would have been wiser to buy a cell company, but CL is going all-in on the Cloud.
5. The TCA's Certification program. This is kind of self-promoting because I am a Board member and founder of TCA, but I have seen how the carriers are looking at certification for the indirect channel. I think for agents the CTP (or some certification) will be necessary.
6. The Cloud M&A - there was so much of it! The big one was VZ buying Terremark, which might have been the same plan that CenturyLink used when scooping up Qwest CyberCenters and Savvis. I think the one least spoken about is the TWC-Navisite deal.
7. InterNAP killing its Channel. I don't think this story is over, since the agents have to keep fighting this one or risk more crap like this from carriers who need to rightside their balance sheet like some kind of lipstick on a pig. Cloud companies don't want to see it, but it is this action by InterNAP (and Equinix with Switch & Data before it) that keeps Agents from running to the Cloud. Fear of being cut off at the knees. Not that telcos - remember MCI? - haven't sliced the channel (hello RBOCs!)
8. TelePacific's buying spree - Telekenex, Tel-West, Covad Wireless, and Orange County Internet Xchange. It was fast and furious and quick.
9. Dan Foster leaving then returning to MegaPath to take over for Bruce Chatterly as President of the Business Markets Group. That game of musical chairs was confusing to watch, coming on the heels of the merger of Covad's two largest customers - Megapath and Speakeasy - into one company.
10. Since 2011 seemed like the year of serial acquisitions from companies - Megapath, TelePacific, CenturyLink, Windstream, TDS - let's give a hand to EarthLink, who took New Edge Networks and combined it with One Comm., DeltaCom, and STS Telecom to make a nationwide business CLEC play, then added a bunch of IT/Managed services/Cloud services to that CLEC with Logical Solutions, Business Vitals and the Synergy Global Solutions deals. We'll see how that integration works out in 2012.
11. Comcast hiring Craig Schlagbaum to build and run its Channel indicated that Cable was coming to play in the business space. CLEC's need to take note, because most CLEC"s don't OWN or operate their own network, but lease network from ILEC's and Cablecos. Also, Cox and Comcast are rolling out Hosted PBX nationwide, which means the ITSP space better wake up and get its house in order, since cable has a brand and a network to go with that Hosted PBX service.
I'm certain we will see more M&A in 2012 since companies are flush with cash and can't organically increase revenue. And I am also certain that Cable will be making a big impact in the SMB space in 2012, much to the detriment of CLEC's and VoIP providers.