A helping hand

A helping hand

Clifford Norton of Channel Telecom
Clifford Norton of Channel Telecom

Earlier this year Channel Telecom was nominated as a finalist in the Comms Business Awards for the Switchless Reseller category. The company didn’t win but reaching finalist status was an achievement in itself for a company established just three years ago.

Managing Director Clifford Norton recalls that for their Comms Business Awards entry Channel Telecom submitted a case study on an end-user customer that had achieved a 30 per cent reduction in costs for telecoms and network services amounting to £38,000 per annum, by switching to a Channel Telecom partner provider.

“I worked on that contract and we moved heaven and earth to get the business for our partner. It involved implementing a major MPLS network and switching the customer to SIP Trunks for voice, but we managed the transition for the customer and we delivered for our partner and that basically is what we’re all about.”

Norton’s approach appears to be paying off because the company’s channel partners signed £1 million worth of contracts in a month for the first time in June. “That was a real milestone for us, but when you reach it, it’s the next goal that’s got your focus. It’s been a very good year for us, with record trading quarters. Considering we started the business in the worst recession for over seventy years, even I’m surprised at how well we’ve done. And I think that proves we are doing the right things.”

Norton started the business after working for other network service aggregators. “Yes I’ve been round the block a couple of times and what always got me down, was the short-termism. I finally decided that if I was going to do it right I was going to have to do it myself, so I am proving a point.”


One of Norton’s key hires has been Tim Nelson, ex BT, who came on board to head up the Marketing and Product Management teams. “Our proposition is that we really care and will ‘hand-hold’ channel partners through any challenges and hiccups.” Nelson explains. “The comms market is transitioning rapidly from customer premises equipment to hosted solutions. Comms providers have to learn new technologies and also new models for revenue generation. We are guiding them through these transitions, helping them win business and showing them how to generate ongoing commissions and income from hosted services.”

Channel Telecom offers two channel models. Dealers can sell Channel Telecom branded services in return for ongoing commission payments. Alternatively Channel Telecom authorised resellers sell white labelled services under their own brand and set their own tariffs and margins. “As you would expect we have more dealers than resellers, but we offer the same personal support and service to both groups,” says Nelson.

Norton claims a major strength of Channel Telecom’s service offering is the billing system it offers. “It’s provided free as a hosted resource to resellers. We can also administer billing for the reseller using our billing bureau service.” The importance Channel Telecom attaches to billing provision and service support generally is evidenced by Peter Cresswell joining the company recently to lead the Operations team. “One of Peter’s key responsibilities is ensuring that our channel partners know how to use the systems we provide, and supporting them with any technical issues they may have with service provision and billing,” Norton confirms.

Norton says Channel Telecom’s service portfolio covers all the bases. “For voice services we offer expertise in provisioning and supporting calls and lines via our WLR3 portal. We also offer hosted IP telephony and SIP trunks. Our DSL broadband offering is comprehensive including all the latest variants. We’ve just gone EAD established with Openreach so our partners can now offer their customers low cost, high performance 1Gb point-to-point data connectivity for MPLS networks and cloud computing apps.”

Summing up Norton says, “We can help our partners manage the change to hosted provision because we offer a personal ‘handholding’ style of service that distinguishes us from the bigger, impersonal corporate-style players. We’re putting money into our partners’ pockets, we’re providing a great service for their customers and we’re making a bit of money for ourselves. Plus we’re having a lot of fun doing it. What more can you ask for?”

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