Comcast's New SD-WAN Service Signals A Hot Pursuit Of Enterprise Customers

Comcast Business has small businesses to thank for its double-digit revenue growth over the last year, but the cable giant hasn't been shy about its plans to pursue bigger enterprises.

The Philadelphia-based cable provider today is generating about 70 percent of its business services revenues from the small business segment. However, Comcast's new SD-WAN service, launched this week, will be pivotal in helping the cable giant reel in bigger fish, according to Adam Edwards, co-founder and CEO of master agent Telarus, a Comcast partner.

"This is the first complete SD-WAN solution from a broadband player and broadband is becoming part of the enterprise SD-WAN conversation," he said.

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The cable giant's SD-WAN stands out in the increasing crowded SD-WAN market as "an industry disrupter and game changer," for enterprise customers, agreed Ian Kieninger, CEO of Chicago-based master agent and Comcast partner Avant.

Comcast is coming into the SD-WAN market at a good time because broadband, thanks to SD-WAN, has become a viable -- and reliable -- connectivity option for enterprise customers, Telarus' Edwards said. The biggest beneficiary of SD-WAN, he added, are cable providers which have been largely left out of enterprise network architectures.

"It used to be the small businesses that would buy cable circuits, but larger business didn't think they could rely on it," Edwards said. "SD-WAN has made coax circuits, augmented with another connection for diversity, a meaningful component of enterprise networks."

Comcast's business services have been thriving for the last year. The Philadelphia'-based cable giant's business services revenues increased 12.6 percent to $1.53 billion during Q2 2017. In 2016, business services revenue increased 16.1 percent for the year, reaching $5.51 billion from $4.75 billion in 2015.

While Comcast has seen most of its success from small-to-midsized business sales, a segment that accounts for about 60 percent of Comcast's business revenue growth, the company has said during its recent earnings calls that it is actively pursuing more enterprise business.

Going after bigger business means more opportunities for channel partners, Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channels for Comcast Business, told CRN.

The latest SD-WAN offering, in particular, will help open up new markets for Comcast that the cable provider hasn't served in the past, such as enterprises with hundreds, if not thousands of branch office locations, Schlagbaum added.

"I think we are opening up into new spaces for our partners to sell into that we really didn't really have an offering for historically," he said. "We started off selling more to SMBs that wanted coax to run their pizza parlor or nail salon, and now our partners are selling into hospitals and financial services firms. [The SD-WAN service] will add another dimension now for distributed enterprises that might be using MPLS today and can now upgrade."