As cable providers jump into the SD-WAN fray, there’s another important story that’s developing. SD-WAN represents the first product that U.S. cable providers are selling on a nationwide basis, beyond the boundaries of their franchise territories.
The ability of cable to act in an OTT (over-the-top) manner and virtually overbuild incumbent service providers has long been predicted. It usually is prophesied as a cataclysmic event when the traditionally collegial cable industry breaks into open competitive warfare. The expected catalyst has been the ability of a large provider to launch a residential OTT video streaming service with nationwide and global reach.
Instead it’s been the business services arena that is seeing the advent of OTT-like strategies — and the result is likely to produce more cooperation between companies, not less. In promoting their SD-WAN products, which ride upon virtualized platforms, both Comcast Business and Charter’s Spectrum Enterprise have promoted their ability to provide nationwide reach.
Sure, Comcast and Spectrum could elbow each other as they pursue customers, as any good capitalist enterprises will do. But they cannot truly offer nationwide reach without some cooperation from other internet providers that provide connectivity to the businesses that they wish to serve. That requires partnering with cable providers in other territories and even telcos and other broadband providers.
As Comcast was preparing to launch its SD-WAN product, which runs on its ActiveCore SDN platform, the provider set itself up to aggregate network components and work with both its cable brethren and its competitors, said Jody Hagemann, director of product management, Comcast Business.
The driving force behind the trend is business customer demand. “We have a tremendous amount of customers that are coming to us for our SD-WAN solution that are either bringing their own connectivity or ours,” Hagemann said. “We’d love you to bring Comcast connectivity but if not this is truly an over-the-top solution.
“We have enabled customers who come to us, give us their site list and say, ‘Procure the internet connectivity on our behalf. I want it on one bill, I want one last-mile management, I want you to handle it even if it’s not on-net to you.’ We’ve seen tremendous adoption of that,” Hagemann said.
When Spectrum Enterprise announced its SD-WAN product, which runs on an SDN/NFV platform, it immediately positioned it for availability beyond its service territory. “The Spectrum Enterprise Managed SD-WAN Service is available nationally with simplified pricing and bundles with multiple connection options,” the company said in its March announcement.
Other cable providers want to benefit from cross-territory selling for SD-WAN and other products. Cox Business is seeking strategic partnerships with fellow cable companies as well as local exchange carriers (LECs) to “follow customers out…