Along the same lines as AT&T last week, Comcast Business has released a more robust, in-home broadband service for work from home (WFH) employees. In order to provide improved connectivity and security for WFH employees, Comcast Business has introduced its Comcast Business At Home offering.
While no one knows for certain how many of the millions of employees currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic will return to their offices, it seems to be a safe bet that there will be more WFH employees going forward than there were prior to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 crisis has changed the network paradigm for service providers, which now means home-based employees need managed access points, more robust routers and corporate provided phones as part of an increased focus on standardized home office infrastructure that can be managed by a business or service provider.
Using home-based broadband tiers has been a struggle for some business professionals as they share the same bandwidth with other household members that are using it for online gaming and streaming videos.
"What we think we're seeing is people are starting to plan for what could be the new norm," said Comcast Business' Jeff Lewis, vice president for software-defined networking, in an interview prior to the announcement of the new business offering. "I'm certainly not in a position to say what's going to happen in six months. I'm not that much of a soothsayer. But I do believe that you will see more people working from home.
“People have been really impacted because kids are streaming and doing homework and watching their videos. We’ve been seeing more people saying 'I don’t want to share the home broadband.' So we saw this as an opportunity to offer a separate business-at-home router in addition to someone’s residential router," Lewis said in a Monday morning email to FierceTelecom
Lewis said an SD-WAN service could possibly be overlaid on top of a broadband service targeted at WFH employees, and he said that his team was working on an SD-WAN service for WFH scenarios. Comcast has spoken to customers about items that it already has on service techs' trucks to enable a "branch-in-the-box" solution for home offices, Lewis said.
Last week, AT&T announced its "AT&T Home Office Connectivity" service, which it said was available across 21 states via the telco's fiber and copper lines. The service features symmetrical speeds of 1-Gig, and includes an internet access line as well as the required equipment that AT&T Business will retain ownership of.
Comcast Business didn't say where its new WHF solution is available, but a search on its website showed it is available across parts of Denver. It also didn't say how much it would cost or whether its business customers would rent or buy the gear for Comcast Business At Home
Comcast Business At Home offers enterprise-grade internet connectivity and better security for remote employees, all of which is separate from the residential broadband tiers.
There's no data cap on the new business tier, which also provides a separate WiFi network and service set identifier (SSID) as well as optional static IP. Businesses of all sizes can add as many employees as they want across multiple locations with the service, and each employee's service is billed to the company's Comcast Business account.
Comcast Business At Home also includes on-the-go voice solutions that allow employees to route their calls from their business number to any device as well as cybersecurity features to help protect the end devices that are connected to the network from cyber threats. Comcast Business At Home includes professional installations by its service technicians.
Last year, Comcast Business announced it was adding more cybersecurity features from Fortinet for mid-sized and enterprise customers that use its software-defined networking-based ActiveCore platform.
The partnership included integrating the capabilities of Fortinet’s FortiGate-VM Next-Generation Firewall Virtual Appliance and Fortinet Security Fabric into ActiveCore to help protect against a variety of security threats, including malware and attacks that simultaneously target different network vulnerabilities.
Using Versa Networks, Comcast developed ActiveCore as its software-defined networking (SDN) platform for its services and applications. Starting several years ago, Comcast touted ActiveCore as one of the first cable-delivered, gigabit-ready SDN platforms in the cable industry.