Comcast Business taps into teleworking craze with [email protected] offering

Comcast Business (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is playing into the emerging teleworking movement for businesses with the debut of its new [email protected] service.

Using its existing hybrid-fiber coax (HFC) network, Comcast said it will help business customers in the financial and health care sectors extend private links to their corporate networks for their staff of doctors, professors and analysts who work out of their homes on a regular basis.

Mike Tighe, executive director, data services for Comcast Business, told FierceTelecom that what drove the company to offer this service was a growing desire from business customers in the health care and sports verticals to get private connections to the homes of key executives and doctors.

"We heard from CIOs, starting out with health care and other verticals, they had a preference to extend their private, secure networks into key executives, physicians that needed to access images, and even into professional sports," Tighe said. "They weren't comfortable using the public Internet for highly secure documents or images so they wanted to know how to extend an Ethernet network to the home."

Set to be generally available across its footprint, Ethernet @Home comes in Ethernet Dedicated Internet (EDI), Ethernet Private Line (EPL) and Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) service types at symmetric bandwidth speeds up to 10 Mbps and backed by a service level agreement.

One of the benefits for an IT department that's deployed Ethernet as part of a wide area network strategy is having a unified network service that includes simplified monitoring and management.

While Comcast Business continues to aggressively build out its fiber network in the metro areas it serves, its existing HFC network already reaches millions of homes today.

"The HFC plant does extend into, for our case, into millions of residences so we took a look at what it would take to extend our Ethernet over HFC service, which is available at up to 10 Mbps into a home," said Tighe. "It was surprisingly simple and we had to work through some processes because we wanted a professional installation so it was working with our Comcast Business installation technicians to get them trained on implementations at home."

The timing of this offering could not be better.

Recent estimates from Global Workplace Analytics revealed that about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time work from home. Likewise, the Telework Research Network report "The State of Telework in the U.S.," states that full-time teleworkers are expected to increase to nearly 5 million by 2016, up almost 70 percent. 

Already, Ethernet @Home product has been adopted by Cooper University Health Care, which said it "gives our radiologists the ability to quickly and securely review images and patient files from their homes over Cooper's private network, letting them provide the best care for their patients in a timely manner."

Health care is just one segment that's interested in the service. Tighe said that the company is seeing sports teams express a desire for the Ethernet @home service as a way to extend sensitive team information to key coaches and players. Comcast could conceivably offer this service to some of its sports team customers like the Celtics and the 49ers.

"There's a lot of sensitive information on the playbook, trades and salary negotiations," Tighe said. "Sports teams have said that they are not 100 percent comfortable about that information being passed over the Internet so they like the idea of key coaches and even players to be able to extend their private secure network to the residence of the coach or player."

For more:
- see the release

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