Comcast invests in upgraded business service

Cable provider hopes beefed-up infrastructure will attract clients.

February 19, 2016
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Comcast’s infrastructure investment includes putting fiber into the ground and then connecting to buildings, regardless of whether current customers are located in those structures. Courtesy Comcast

Comcast is betting $1 million that it can attract new business customers in Kent County.

The cable provider is moving to a “proactive” strategy that includes installing more than 10 miles of cable fiber capable of connecting 427 buildings that house at least 800 tenants.

When Comcast first began offering its digital services in 2006, it was customary to sign up a new a customer first and then build the fiber network to reach the customer.

Now, Comcast is “future-proofing” business with a “build it and they will come” approach, priming office spaces with high-speed broadband services to help municipalities attract new businesses to their communities.

Michelle Gilbert, vice president of public relations for Comcast Cable Heartland Region, called the effort a “supplemental million dollar project” in the Grand Rapids area that includes 10.6 miles of fiber.

She said connections to 93 buildings were established last year, and the company plans to bring the fiber build-out to another 334 buildings in 2016.

“The first wave of new buildings are just being lit up by our network team, so customers who signed up for Comcast Business service up to six months ago will be installed in the next few weeks,” Gilbert said.

The project is being overseen by Irma Clark, senior director of market strategy and development at Comcast for the Heartland Region.

“What’s important to point out is that we’re moving from a reactive to proactive strategy. That’s never been done before. We used to sell service first and then bring it to our customers. Now, we’re looking at areas where having our service will provide a great advantage to businesses, and we’re proactively building our fiber network to those areas in advance of earning the business,” Clark said.

“The project, in general, entails a complete infrastructure investment. We’re putting fiber into the ground and connecting it to these buildings. This includes both areas where we’ve never had service (such as newer office parks or buildings) as well as areas where we want to upgrade the existing network infrastructure to include fiber.”

Although businesses can opt out of using Comcast, there a number of ways in which the proactive strategy can benefit businesses, according to Clark.

First, it shortens the construction and installation time for customers.

Second, it offers flexibility and scalability to give business customers what they need so they are not paying for speed or services they’re not using. When a business is ready to grow, Comcast can then scale its network for that business, Clark said.

“Finally, Comcast is continuously investing in new products and services to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” Clark said. “We’re bringing an award-winning, advanced network to the premise, including our dedicated fiber, co-ax service, business Wi-Fi, as well as voice and TV services, which gives customers a total solution from a single provider.”

Clark said it’s essentially an investment for future needs.

“It’s future-proofing our business. We know our customers’ bandwidth needs double every three years. By putting fiber in the ground, we’ll be ready to meet their growing demands for speed and bandwidth, particularly as more customers move to cloud-based applications and require the faster upload speeds that fiber provides,” she said.

“Furthermore, it creates loyalty because we’re offering them a total package and a path to take advantage of ongoing product innovation. We launch new products every year and we’re continuously investing in our network. Once that connection is made, customers have access to all of this innovation whenever they need it.”

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