When it comes to MSOs’ business services customer base, hospitals, schools and libraries are often mentioned. But it may be time for sports teams to join the ranks. They may seem an unusual fit, but Karen Schmidt, executive director, enterprise product marketing for Comcast Business, identified teams as a growing segment for business services. It may not be enough to recoup the growing cost of sports rights, but it’s still more money for the books.
 
The Boston Red Sox is a classic example of a sports team that’s a heavy user of video, making it a good fit for a Metro Ethernet service, Schmidt said. Comcast signed a deal with the team last year to provide connections at both Boston’s Fenway Park and the team’s new spring training facility, JetBlue Park.
 
The sports industry has changed “dramatically in the last 15 years in its use of technology,” whether it’s use of video files in scouting players or the need for broadband at the park so media can post content anytime they want, Steve Conley, IT director at the Boston Red Sox, said in a statement. Some 1800-2000 users utilize public WiFi at Fenway, on average, for Internet access during a home game, according to Conley. Additionally, more than 250 Red Sox employees are using Comcast Business Class for Internet connectivity on a daily basis.
 
It makes sense given that “multi-location businesses are the target customers,” Schmidt said. That’s why healthcare providers and education institutions so often top lists of MSO business service clients.
 
Still small businesses have been Comcast Business’ sweet spot: The operator reported $1.8bln in business service revenue in 2011 partially thanks to growth in companies with less than 20 employees. “There’s still plenty of growth in the small business market,” said Karen Schmidt, executive director, enterprise product marketing. Service to mid-sized businesses is taking off though. This segment represented 15% of the group’s revenue at the end of 3Q12.
 
The primary focus in the mid-size category is regional businesses with up to 500 employees, though Comcast Business does have the coverage to serve national businesses, according to Schmidt. The key is to stick to the commitment to serve small businesses and take that approach toward the mid-market, she said. In terms of products and services, Ethernet, an enabler of other services like SIP (session initiation protocol), is a big part of it. The MSO launched its metro Ethernet service in 20 markets (all top metro areas) in May 2012. With Comcast still relatively a new player in the Ethernet market, expanding the Ethernet footprint is critical, Schmidt said. Thanks to the fiber infrastructure, wholesale has also become a sizeable business over the years as Comcast Business works with its wireless carrier customers to deliver wireless backhaul and WiFi service, according to Schmidt.
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