Telcos beware. After dabbling for years in commercial services, and then finally getting serious about the small to medium-sized business market with Ethernet and managed voice offerings, Comcast is now throwing down the gauntlet with the creation of a new Enterprise Services division that will target the Fortune 1000 enterprise sector.
Comcast Business announced today that its new business unit will be run by former CEO of SpaceNet Inc. Glenn Katz and will sell "Managed Enterprise Solutions" that include Ethernet, voice, router, security business continuity and WiFi services. The company also says it recently acquired the company Contingent Network Services to help manage service support for large clients.
In making its big push into the enterprise, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is taking advantage of its massive network footprint and continuing fiber buildout. The cable company has deployed fiber deep enough to provide multi-gigabit residential service in many areas of the country, and DSLReports notes that at least one live deployment of the 2-Gig service has been cited -- with speed test screenshot -- on user forums. In addition, Comcast has expanded its fiber network for commercial services in several regions this year including Denver, Portland, Or. and Livermore, Calif.
To reach enterprise customers outside its traditional footprint, however, Comcast has to take advantage of wholesale network agreements with other cable providers. And that's where things could get interesting.
Comcast could find itself competing heavily with other cable companies for enterprise business, even while sticking (for now) to its carefully defined and non-overlapping regional markets for residential services. In particular, Comcast may find itself up against a fortified Charter Communications Inc. if Charter's proposed acquisitions of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks are approved. (See Shot Clock Starts on Charter Deals.)
With TWC and Bright House under its belt, Charter is projected to generate annual revenue in the business services sector of more than $4.5 billion, roughly equivalent to Comcast's own commercial services take. Charter is also keen to expand further, with CEO Tom Rutledge saying earlier this year, "We will invest significantly in building out our optical network beyond our existing footprint to inject much needed competition in the commercial markets." (See Charter Plans Business Services, Wireless Push .)
Comcast, meanwhile, has been building up to its own enterprise push for years. Comcast Business was named the fastest-growing Ethernet provider by Vertical Systems Group in both 2013 and 2014, and has moved up to number six on the firm's leaderboard behind AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Time Warner Cable. (See Comcast Business Named Fastest Growing Ethernet Provider .)
The cable giant says it has already signed up several large enterprise customers across sectors including financial services, banking, hospitality and retail. Comcast has also announced commercial wins with major sports teams this year including the Tennessee Titans and the Atlanta Hawks. (See Tennessee Titans Hand Ball to Comcast and Atlanta Hawks Strike Deal With Comcast Business .)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading