Millions of U.S. workers each day hit their computers instead of the roads. In fact, the number of full-time telecommuters should reach about 5 million in 2016, up 69 percent from 2011, according to Telework Research Network. Those figures represent new revenue possibilities for the indirect channel – and cable operators, rather than their telecom counterparts, are zeroing in on the opportunity.
Last month, Comcast Business unveiled Ethernet @Home, a service that delivers business Ethernet to a residence. Ethernet @Home runs on Comcast’s hybrid-fiber coax network and provides private connectivity to employees’ corporate networks. The company touts the new service as a way to eliminate VPN log-in errors and remote desktop glitches, while providing the security and regulatory assurances required by industries such as health care. Given the growth of telework and no tolerance for compromised data or networks, rolling out Ethernet to homes seems a solid strategy.
Comcast is taking advantage of the circumstances. Ethernet @Home is available in the operator’s business Ethernet footprint. According to PC World, speeds range from 2Mbps-10Mbps; they are symmetric and feature SLAs. There’s also basic and priority service. The latter accommodates applications such as HD video. Pricing varies from $200-$800 per month.
For channel partners, all of this opens another sales avenue, and the details look uncomplicated. Pre-sale service delivery and assurance, and billing, all follow existing Comcast Business Ethernet procedures, said Scott Cassell, senior director of enterprise data and IP for Comcast Business.
“The key to unlocking opportunities for Ethernet @Home is understanding a customer’s systems, processes and people,” Cassell said. “For a healthcare customer, for example, physicians or other medical professionals may need to remotely access patient records, images or financial data from multiple legacy and next generation systems.”
Ethernet @home lets them do that, he said.
On a similar note, Time Warner Cable Business Class, whose parent company is slated for acquisition by Comcast, offers the same kind of connectivity for teleworkers. Partners just need to know how to sell a multilocation eLan Ethernet service, a spokesman told Channel Partners, and the account must be billed to a commercial headquarters and located within TWCBC’s coverage area. TWCBC provide a self-service tool for checking serviceability at potential customers’ locations.
Charter Business and Frontier Communications also offer business Ethernet service for at-home staff, but the companies did not respond to requests for more information. Another regional operator that’s grown active in the channel, WOW! Business, does not offer such a product. Neither do AT&T, CenturyLink or Verizon Enterprise Solutions.