Mediacom Business’ speed upgrade disrupts CenturyLink, Frontier's small business hold

Mediacom Business automatically upgrades SMB customers to higher broadband tiers. (Mediacom)

Having completed a large-scale rollout of fiber in its business services footprint and a consumer DOCSIS 3.1 build, Mediacom is turning up new speeds for small businesses to surpass lower-speed copper services offered by incumbent telcos CenturyLink and Frontier.

Beginning in April, Mediacom Business will upgrade existing Mediacom Business customers in the 10 Mbps, 20 Mbps and 50 Mbps tiers of service to new 60 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps tiers, respectively. What’s more, customers won’t have to pay anything more for the higher speeds.

These speed upgrades are part of a broader initiative to improve its consumer and business-grade networks. In 2016, Mediacom launched a three-year, $1 billion capital investment plan to upgrade and enhance the capacity of its fiber network.

RELATED: Mediacom says it will be the first U.S. MSO to go all-DOCSIS 3.1

Over the course of 2017, Mediacom deployed DOCSIS 3.1-based 1 Gbps internet across its national footprint, bringing ultrafast broadband to nearly all of the 3 million homes and businesses across the company’s 22state footprint.

Dan Templin, SVP of Mediacom Business, told FierceTelecom that the speed upgrades for the SMB customer base is part of a broader evolution for the cable MSO.

Mediacom Business
Dan Templin

“We’ve built out tens of thousands of fiber miles into business locations we did not have before and this announcement is a logical progression,” Templin said. “We built that piece out and we now have a converged network with fiber plant, DOCSIS 3.1 plant, customers with 10 and 40 Gbps, but this is an opportunity to say that regardless of the type of capacity customers need we have a network that’s fully deployed.”

The SMB sector is ripe for these new upgrades because companies in its cable footprint have had no options besides purchasing lower-speed DSL or TDM-based circuits from local telcos like CenturyLink and Frontier.

For the most part, Mediacom Businesses’ HFC speed drive is mainly focused on small businesses that have no more than 20 employees or remote offices of larger companies that don’t need a fiber-based connection.

“We have acknowledged that these businesses we’re serving—and these is not enterprise class customers—but rather the midsized and truly small sized SMBs with 10 to 20 employee businesses that have been running on 10, 15 and 20 Mbps connections,” Templin said. “We are the new market entrant and embody a disruptive alternative, but many of our SMB customers were not familiar with higher speeds and what they could do to take advantage of these newer connections.”

Focus on SLAs, driving value

Like other large business providers, Mediacom Business has customers that have offices in multiple territories. Given this diversity, one customer could be using fiber-based connections at one site and a DOCSIS 3.1 HFC platform at another.

What this means is that speeds are only one part of the equation for Mediacom’s business push.

Mediacom Business is applying the same quality mentality it delivers higher class Ethernet and optical services for large businesses by offering service level agreements SLAs on these new speed services for SMB customers.

Templin said what’s becoming more relevant to businesses is not just the underlying technology, but ensuring the cable operator can deliver consistent services.

“The customer mentality is less about saying I need fiber versus I need copper because a DOCSIS 3.1 connection is hardly twisted pair copper,” Templin said. “It’s becoming a performance based issue and adhering to SLAs. Clients want to know they have that extraordinary broadband connection and it has to work and we do that similarly in terms of SLAs whether it’s on the DOCSIS 3.1 platform or on the fiber platform.”

In the near-term Mediacom knows there’s not a lot of applications that need 1 Gbps, but the awareness of 1 Gbps and other higher available speeds means that business customers have comfort to take advantage of new cloud applications or expand their own facilities.  

Mediacom can enable businesses to do more and launch more applications in markets where telcos only offer DSL like speeds, creating a so-called Halo Effect. Even if a customer does not want to migrate right away to 1 Gbps, they will have several bandwidth options that may have not been available before.   

“We have thousands of small businesses on net, but now they can get full access to up to 1 Gbps internet connectivity,” Templin said. “This really empowers them to really think outside of the box for anything they can do with it.”

Templin said that Mediacom Business can offer an array of fiber and HFC-based solutions or a combination of both according to a customer’s specific needs.

“We have either technology that a customer wants,” Templin said. “If a customer wants one or the other, we can deliver it. Our network is now widely deployed and we can deliver the network performance that these businesses are demanding.”  

Health care, incubators remain ripe targets

While other segments will likely follow as they become aware of Mediacom’s new speed tiers, the service provider is seeing initial potential for the regional health care offices and business incubators.

On the health care front, Mediacom Business has seen great success in selling fiber-based services like Ethernet and optical services to regional health care providers, but the cable MSO sees an opportunity to serve single office practices with its new set of higher speeds.  

“We’ve done well with our fiber connections to Midwest and Southeast with regional hospitals, but what we’re seeing now with our DOCSIS 3.1 is it’s enabling small primary care providers,” Templin said. “These three or four doctor practices can now use these types of connections to get access to the same technology on the medical side that before you had to go to a regional provider.”

Another segment that’s ripe for these upgrades is the incubator community.

The University of Missouri has several incubator projects run by students, for example. Mediacom Business provides connectivity for that university’s incubator program.

Run out of its Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia, Missouri, the center provides a wide range of services, including facilities, mentoring, access to university research facilities and financing possibilities.

“What we are doing and what they can do is create some of these new applications and new ideas that you could not previously contemplate,” Templin said. “It’s pretty heady times when you see a new business or application start up and they can point to how the broadband connections provided the fuel.”

This article was updated on March 21 with additional information from Mediacom Business.