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Mobile provider T-Mobile has unveiled its first European channel program and is looking to double its number of solution providers in the region by next year.

The firm said the move is based on a two-pronged strategy: first, to partner with laptop vendors that are embedding 3G into the hardware, and second, to partner with IT resellers that are responsible for laptop sales.

Adrian Williams, head of OEM and IT channel partners at T-Mobile UK, said the program will help the vendor organize and formalize it channel strategy. “We have been in the channel for about 18 months, but this is the first tiered program we’ve launched,” he said. “We already have 450 resellers on board, and we want to be near the 1,000 mark by next year.”

The program divides solution providers into three tiers: Partners, Preferred and Premier. All partners will get access to a Web portal, marketing support, sales training and account management. However, with a commitment of 50 units/connections a month, Preferred partners get additional account meetings and marketing development funding. And for a commitment of 100 units/connections a month, Premier partners will receive all of the above plus additional margin and funding, the firm said.

“From a data point of view we recognize that the data VARs have a better opportunity to sell our connectivity than our telecoms partners. Data VARs are able to manage the complete solutions from the hardware and software to the connectivity with it.”

T-Mobile is distributed by Ingram Micro and Northamber in the U.K., and Williams hinted that a European deal with Tech Data may also emerge as demand grows.

Bhavesh Patel, commercial director at Ingram Micro UK, said the distributor has been assisting T-Mobile in its recruitment process. “With the massive growth in the mobile data market, resellers are ideally placed to take advantage of this at any level,” Patel said.

“At the base level, resellers can earn additional profit by attaching a 3G Mobile Broadband card to every laptop they sell. The commissions available in some instances are probably higher than the margin they could make on the notebook sale. Resellers are also ideally placed to sell a fully integrated BlackBerry solution for their customer, including devices, airtime and the server software.”