AT&T's New Partner Program

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

AT&T's New Partner Program

Note that this is information I have heard from three different agents about AT&T's new partner program. One even attributed it to ACC Business. I have not confirmed it - nor have I seen the agreement.

There are many different types of distribution channels for AT&T - CLEC, wholesale, resale, rebill, agents, retail, brick-and-mortar and online. Traditionally, the indirect channel has been comprised of traditional telecom agents, VARs and inter-connects. Now word is out that the new indirect model will look a lot like wholesale.

Remember how I said that I wondered why AT&T Wholesale would have a meeting room at a channel show? Well, the new program will be the agent receiving a buy rate. The agent will then make his commission on the mark up above that buy rate. It will be a buy rate better than wholesale gets, one agent told me.

Now the devil is always in the details. The agent has to have a NOC (network operations center) to handle tier one support. The agent has to have a billing system, since AT&T will bill the Agent for the services at the buy rate. Then the agent will pay AT&T directly via ACH!

The one thing that the RBOCs fall down on is billing. So you will have to rectify bills with AT&T, but not for the customer, but for your agency! Meanwhile, the ACH will pull the invoiced amount out of your account. Then you can work the dispute!

Originally, I was told that AT&T would be billing the client directly and paying the Agent the delta. This would make more sense because then AT&T would retain a relationship directly with the end user.

Tier one support and billing are not an ability that any agents have. Some VARs do. Maybe even a couple of master agents.

MSPs can bill and support, so maybe that is the target audience. Howver, MSPs probably have no familiarity with ILEC billing and the USOC catalog. ILEC services typically have more than two billing elements (USOC codes). It makes the billing errors hard to assess.

The $5 million dollar bond is another hurdle, because not every business can qualify for one.

This is the rebiller world all over again. So the new partner will handle everything but the network - support, sales, marketing, billing, collections and vendor management.

How is it that this new Partner doesn't need a CLEC license? Maybe for data rebilling only they don't have to.

The holes I see glaring at me are that most companies don't have a handle on the costs associated with customer acquisition and support. Pricing is always a strategic decision. How do you know what to charge to cover support, sales, marketing, bad debt? Is there enough margin to charge that and be under AT&T's retail rate?

Looks like Plutonium to me.

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