Telstra has signed up about 50 systems integrators to help it push into the SMB data market.
The newly established channel will focus primarily on pushing DSL-based products. More integrators are expected to be appointed but, according to Telstra Business managing director, Christine Holgate, the number of partners would not top 100.
"They are mostly small companies with a turnover of less than $10 million," she said. "They all have a very strong local presence, demonstrated high levels of customer satisfaction and have excellent networking skills.
"These partners were going out and selling different broadband packages before but SMB customers prefer to have a one stop shop - they don't want multiple suppliers. We want to be the virtual CIO for SMB."
The integrators will manage the customer relationships, including billing, and pay Telstra for products purchased and required carriage. But despite handing over billing to partners, Holgate refuted the suggestion that a reduction in billing had been a driver of the initiative. Instead, she said the move had been necessitated by the growing acceptance of broadband in the SMB market.
Any customer spending more than $10,000 a year on telco costs would still retain a Telstra account manager. And the newly appointed integrators have not been given access to Telstra's voice or wireless services.