Today, Comcast signaled its intention to compete for mid-size business customers. Until now, the MSO has focused on providing business solutions to small companies of less than 20 employees, crossing the $1 billion mark for business services revenue in 2010. With that revenue momentum (and motivation), the MSO has announced Metro Ethernet services for mid-size businesses. (For more see What’s Driving Metro E’s Growth?)

Examples of mid-size businesses, typically with 20-500 employees, include school districts, local governments, and hospitals. Comcast Business Class Metro Ethernet services for mid-size businesses are now available in these 25 markets: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Harrisburg (Pa.), Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, state of New Jersey, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington D.C. and western New England.

The MSO has been creating a mid-size business sales force for about 18 months, said Kevin O’Toole, SVP of Product Management and Strategy for Comcast Business Services. It has built a sales force of more than 250 people, many of whom were brought in from outside the company, particularly those with CLEC experience.

"This (today’s announcement) is kind of a coming out party," he said. "We’ve been active in the cell backhaul space, and this is built on the same platform."

Comcast’s acquisition of Cimco Communications, a CLEC in the Chicago area, helped the company develop its mid-size business strategy. "Cimco was very operationally excellent," said O’Toole. "We’ve taken a lot of their know-how and blended it into our efforts."

For small businesses, such as retail stores or doctor’s offices, Comcast can provide Internet access almost as easily as for residences. But larger businesses have more complex networking requirements, they need faster speeds, and they often have more than one location in a metropolitan area.

"The last mile network becomes more important," said O’Toole. "We have converged regional area networks that operate MPLS and Ethernet in the core. Metro E rides on top of that core infrastructure. We’re blessed to have this last mile network that goes into the suburbs and business parks. In the majority of cases, our facilities will be quite close by."

Its Metro Ethernet services are delivered using the company’s fiber-based IP network of more than 147,000 miles of fiber optic cable. It will deliver bandwidth from 1 Mbps up to 10 Gbps that can be remotely scaled in increments of 1 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps, and offered with three different classes of service.

Comcast offers four Metro Ethernet Services, including:

  • ?Ethernet Private Line Service – point-to-point connectivity between two customer sites for bandwidth-intensive applications.?
  • Ethernet Virtual Private Line Service – a point-to-multipoint connection that allows customers to tailor bandwidth, performance characteristics and cost to meet the needs of their applications.
  • ?Ethernet Network Service – multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity to connect organizations with high-bandwidth requirements and multiple locations across Comcast’s network.
  • ?Ethernet Dedicated Internet Access Service – continuous, high-bandwidth connectivity between customers’ LANs and the public Internet.

Comcast’s Metro Ethernet services have all three certifications from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF 9, 14 and 18).

Asked if Comcast would next be announcing a move into enterprise business services, O’Toole said mid-size business is "probably a $10 billion-$12 billion opportunity. We’re not really looking up-market from that, right now."

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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