Comcast Speeds Up Business High-Speed-Data Offering

Cable giant Comcast is stepping up its effort in the commercial market by doubling the speed of the high-speed-data service it sells to small business owners.

The cable operator increased the speed of its “Business Class Internet” service across its national footprint from 8.1 megabits per second downstream and 1 mbps upstream to 16.2 mbps downstream and 2 mbps upstream, respectively, while keeping the price at $89.95 per month.

The new Business Class service, which includes eight e-mail accounts, is aimed squarely at small businesses that may currently be relying on digital-subscriber-line or T-1 (1.5-mbps) service from a telephone company.

“Our target segment is businesses with fewer than 20 employees,” said Bill Stemper, president of Comcast Business Services.

According to Stemper, an analysis of current network traffic convinced Comcast that it could provide faster high-speed-data services to commercial customers without impacting existing consumer video, voice and data services. He thinks the demand is there for faster data service as small businesses receive software updates or transmit work product that consist of increasingly large digital files.

Comcast noted that a 220-megabyte file that would take 10 minutes to download with a 3-mbps DSL connection can be downloaded in less than two minutes at Business Class Internet’s new speed.

While cable operators like Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems have been mining the commercial market for new revenue for years, Comcast has only made a serious push in the business-to-business space in the past two years, said Stemper, who won’t divulge the exact number of business customers the cable operator currently serves.

In the past few months, Comcast Business Services rolled out multiline voice service and upgraded its high-speed-data offering by providing Microsoft Communications Services -- which includes synchronized e-mail, shared calendars, contacts and tasks -- to customers at no additional cost. It also sells a basic video/voice/data bundle to small businesses for $99 per month that includes one line of voice service, a 6-mbps-downstream data service and basic-cable-TV service.