Cable and Wireless (C&W) has signed its first-ever UK distribution partners and is in negotiations to make further appointments.
The telco last week appointed Network Partners, which was bought by Matrix Group in November, and Interface Advantage. The two firms will have access to the entire C&W range, but will focus on the IP/VPN market for the low end, said Marek Lowther, UK channel director at C&W.
"This time last year we set out phase one of our channel plans, which was to appoint our direct VAR channel (CRN, 20 September 2004).
"We have now done this, and moving into phase two we wanted to appoint some distributors to handle the lower end of the sector," he said.
Lowther declined to name any further distributors under negotiation, but hinted: "We wouldn't rule out broadline distribution. As a rule, it is much easier for IT partners to acquire networking skills than vice versa."
He said C&W intends to maintain its 27 direct reseller accounts, but will also help the distributors launch their own recruitment drives.
"There is a potential base of about 6,000 resellers that we could be hitting. If we are servicing 1,000 resellers over the next few years through our distributors I will be happy. Our accreditation programme is still being finalised. We don't see the point in making resellers jump through hoops when they already have relevant skills from other vendor partnerships," he said.
Kevin Cheston, divisional director at Network Partners, said the firm has evaluated C&W's product set and found it a good alternative to BT.
"We are a traditional BT stronghouse, but our strength is our independence so it's good for us and our reseller to have C&W as an alternative. We have dealt with C&W historically, but now it has unbundled its products so we can sell them on," he said.
The firm will be dealing "purely with the VPN side" for the mid-range, he added.
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