Comcast Business pushes into the national services market

Hires talent, acquires assets, teams with other provides to reach beyond its core footprint

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Comcast Business, which began offering communications services to small businesses in its regional footprint in 2007 and broadened its portfolio in 2010 to appeal to larger organizations in that local realm, today announced an Enterprise Services unit that will go after Fortune 1000 companies regardless of geography.

“We have the right services in our portfolio now, the right performance levels, the right metrics, so we can target businesses outside of our footprint,” says Bill Stemper, president of Comcast Business, which has an annual run rate of $4.5 billion.

The company, which has been spending $1 billion per year to expand its business network, will offer Ethernet, Internet access, advanced voice services, and a range of managed services, including everything from managed router and security services to 3G and 4G backup services, Stemper says.

Comcast Business serves 39 states and 20 of the top 25 markets, representing roughly 45% of the US. To go after “bigger companies, even those not in our footprint, we did three things,” Stemper says:

* Hired a leader to lead the charge, Glenn Katz, who was the CEO of SpaceNet, a service aggregator that supported business customers by pulling together service offerings from different providers.

* Worked with fellow CATV-based service providers to hash out a “cable first solution,” whereby the companies have agreed to buy and sell from one another much like telephone companies cobble together services from different providers today to deliver end-to-end enterprise solutions. Comcast Business says it has reached network agreements with Brighthouse, Cablevision, Charter, Cox, Mediacom, Suddenlink and Time Warner Cable.

* Acquired Contingent Network Services for its expertise in offering managed services to many nationally known businesses. “The company will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Comcast Business and will continue to operate under the Contingent brand name,” Comcast Business reports.

Asked what will get Comcast Business in the door, Stemper says scalable bandwidth at great price points and the speed at which they can react to customer needs. The customer sweet spot will be banking and finance firms and hospitality and food service organizations that have some centralized offices and data centers and maybe 1,000 scattered branches/outlets, he says.

In terms of what comes next, Stemper sees software defined networking playing a big role. “The new world is Ethernet based, and the more sophisticated businesses want to prioritize apps, customize the manner in which the network works with the apps. So all of us are working on software defined capabilities that gives them that capability, but in a way that is more flexible than traditional MPLS. The new world is going to be more dynamic and customizable and software defined capabilities will be one of the next things we layer in.”

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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