Group Telecom may go where no other telco has gone before: To the channel to expand its market.

The telecommunications services and network infrastructure supplier, which is now part of Vancouver-based 360 Networks Corp. as of a February acquisition, is in the midst of building onto its North

American IP (all-fibre) network that today spans 53,000 kilometres.

With that, Tal Bevan, president, business operations at Group Telecom of Toronto, said the company is currently developing a channel program.

Bevan refused to divulge any details of the program for competitive reasons.

He did say that Group Telecom’s current direct to customer model is under-serving the market place.

Group Telecom has a customer base of more than 10,000 carrier and commercial customers in North America. The company offers traditional local and long distance voice products, optical transport, wavelengths, Internet transport, gigabit Ethernet, and optical virtual private networks. It’s optical mesh fiber network reaches 60 major urban centres in Canada and the U.S., including 17 metro fibre networks in nine Canadian provinces, Bevan said.

However, Group Telecom must expand into more markets and using channel partners will be one avenue the company will take.

“”I think our competitors aren’t addressing it (channels) and I don’t want to tip my hand. Channels are good because it is a low cost way to go to market and something we can take advantage of,”” Bevan said.

Michelle Warren, a market analyst for Evans Research Corp. of Toronto believes Group Telecom’s North American channel push will be key to its expansion efforts.

“”Group Telecom’s commitment to provide custom solutions and applications to suit the telecom needs and specialty business requirements is a focused one. Focusing on business practices is key to providing successful customer service and robust business opportunities, for both Group Telecom and for the reseller community. As Group Telecom ventures into the reseller market, organizations with a core competency in the telecom market will be key to their success,”” Warren said.

Bevan did say that Group Telecom’s inside sales team will handle the planning and transactions for the channel.

360 Networks, which, like Group Telecom, also filed for Canadian Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection last year, has a channel plan in place, but Bevan did not say if Group Telecom’s plan will be similar to its parent’s plan.

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