Part 2 - Interview with Kristine Faulkner, Cox Business, VP of product development

FierceTelecom: I assume when you talk about wireless backhaul, the majority of it is going over your fiber network? But as you expand the capabilities of your HFC plant, do you see more wireless operators willing to carry traffic over that network as well?

:  I think carriers are becoming more and more open. That has a lot to do with the resiliency and capabilities we're building into our HFC network in terms of intelligence and bandwidth. The majority of it is certainly fiber, but there's an openness to leverage our HFC infrastructure.

FierceTelecom: Along with fellow cable operator Time Warner Cable, Cox Business has made a name for itself in delivering Ethernet services. Could you talk about the growth of Ethernet as a service for Cox Business?

It's our fastest-growing product line. As customers look to converge their services and consolidate their solutions over one intelligent pipe, Ethernet becomes that defacto standard, especially as they look at replacing legacy technology such as Frame Relay and Private Line services. We are well positioned with both our fiber and HFC coverage. We spent a lot of mind share around Ethernet over HFC. We launched it in the majority of our markets.

As you have tracked it, Vertical Systems Group reports we're the fourth-largest Ethernet provider in terms of market share. Our quest is to continue on the path of that growth. With a robust set of Ethernet offerings across fiber and HFC networks combined with a customer-centric focus, we are able to work with our prospects as they plan for their future evolution. Unlike the incumbents, we don't have to worry about cannibalizing a large base of legacy services. Instead, we can position the right solution for the customer.

FierceTelecom: Okay, so Ethernet is one of your big sellers. Are you seeing your customers run various services besides data?

Yes, we're definitely seeing a voice movement as folks transition their voice service from TDM over to IP and video. Carrying video over Ethernet has become a big seller especially in some of our larger segments we service such as education and health care. The majority of it is still very data-centric, but we're starting to see more and more voice carried over Ethernet. 

FierceTelecom: Speaking of voice, Cox Business offers either a hosted VoIP service or a managed PBX-based service. Are you seeing more enterprises adopt IP-based voice services or does it depend on the segment?

You got it. It really depends on the segment. If I start at 20 employees and below, they are asking for VoIP and are more intrigued by some of the capabilities and solutions that are enabled through a managed voice service. For that part of the market, I always view it as a push pull. It's more of us educating them versus them saying ‘we need a VoIP solution.' It's educating them on the benefits of a GUI interface to manage all of your call control. And even though they are small, many of them are somewhat transient and say 'wouldn't it be nice to have a single number service to be connected wherever they go.' It's about selling them on the idea of productivity capabilities, which in this environment ranks high in importance.

As we move up market that begins to change. As I look at our largest enterprise customers, the regional plays are big for us such as education, health care and government. These segments are doing massive replacements of legacy PBXs with IP PBXs and might want a CPE-based solution for some sites and a hosted solution for other sites and they want it to talk to each other. It varies, but really it depends on the segment.

FierceTelecom: During the past year, Cox Business got listed on a number of General Service Administration (GSA) government service schedules. Talk about the challenges and opportunities serving the government?

Faulkner: Government is strategically important to us because we are so entrenched in the communities we serve. We have a natural affinity to community-based efforts so we have cultivated some very good relationships with local and state government agencies. We have transport Ethernet services, we have voice services, Internet connections and we have served that market well over time. It's important for us to grow. The government had traditionally bought a lot of legacy TDM-based Centrex. As the government looks to evolve to an IP-based solution, they are looking for IP Centrex and hosted CPE-based solutions.

This interview is continued here