It’s no secret that all of the major cable operators intend to stake a claim in the business services market. Cox Communications CEO Pat Esser, for example, has predicted commercial services will deliver $1 billion for his company in 2010.

Opportunities also await tier 2 and tier 3 operators, but as the Cox experience has demonstrated, nailing down the telephony piece is a crucial key to success. However, in finding ways to tackle the small to medium-sized business (SMB) phone service market, smaller cable operators have faced challenges, such as interconnecting their sometimes disparate networks, local porting, and finding solutions scaled down to meet their size and cost requirements.

"The industry has lagged, including the (large) MSOs on the commercial aspect. I think they thought their strength was in residential, and now they are trying to engage the commercial aspect of it. The same is true with the smaller operators. They will lag the MSOs by 12 to 18 months," said Matt Endsley, strategic accounts manager, Arris Solutions. His company just now is seeing interest in and the actual purchase of multiline embedded multimedia terminal adapters (EMTAs) from NCTC members. Troubling times in the back office One of the largest problems that has faced smaller operators regarding telephony in general is related to the back office. "Being smaller, they don’t have the capital to invest in the back office infrastructure the way a Comcast or a Time Warner might do," Endsley said.

"(An operator) might only have 2,000 subscribers total. Thirty to 40 percent voice penetration isn’t enough revenue to put in their own back office, so they go in the SIP proxy direction," Endsley added.

In the July issue of Communications Technology, Atlantic Broadband described how it "preferred to own and manage all aspects of providing service to its customers."

In the end, it combined off-the-shelf products, custom development and hosted solutions to find the "right mix of technology" that would allow it to offer SMB phone service. In particular, Atlantic Broadband decided to use a hosted softswitch and voice application partner and enhance its own billing capabilities with that of a hosted provider.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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FCC chmn Ajit Pai renewed the charter of its Consumer Advisory Committee for an 11th two-year term, selecting 29 members for the group. American Consumer Institute

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