There are various shiny new technologies that garner a lot of industry buzz, but the nation's sixth-largest cable operator's business services division is staying in its lane by focusing on connectivity solutions.
While they still fly their own flags, Wave Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN Communications are all owned by TPG Capital. TPG paid $2.25 billion several years ago to buy Grande and RCN and then bought Seattle-based Wave last year for about $2.36 billion.
All three offer traditional residential cable services and have a history of overbuilding larger cable operators, such as Comcast, but the common business services division of the three operators has a laser focus on providing fiber-based commercial services. Between the three, the business services division has about 10,000 buildings on-net and more than 20,000 miles of fiber in place, much of it metro fiber.
"With the combined companies, we're in seven of the top 10 markets so we're well positioned in metro areas, but we also have some unique footprints in Texas and Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, and Washington," said Patrick Knorr, chief commercial officer and EVP of the Business Solutions Team. "On a regional basis, we have some very unique network capabilities for customers.
"In terms of our own network we provide regional networking solutions and last mile networking solutions. So we do a lot of business, with governments, and schools, as well as provide services to other carriers including cellular backhaul."
Wave, Grande and RCN also offer dark fiber, WDM, hosted voice, and 100G and 10G services. Knorr said that while the primary competitors are Zayo and Crown Castle, the business division also competes against ILECs, Verizon, CenturyLink, Comcast and Charter's Spectrum across the 11 states that it serves.
Since the business solutions team is primarily focused on providing connectivity, those same competitors could be customers of Wave, Grande and RCN or those three could buy capacity from their competitors.
In February, Wave, Grande and RCN announced a newly organized business team to better unify sales and services across the regions that are served. Being able to provide last mile connections to businesses across the three footprints gives the business services team a marketable connectivity edge versus some of the competition.
"We have a very large SMB business," Knorr said. "Because of the investments that the companies have made, our fiber-based commercial services piece of our businesses is actually even larger than our SMB business, which is fairly unique among cable operators, especially, if you look at the next tier of cable operators. But even the larger cable operators haven't quite achieved that ratio."
With services and applications being offered over the top and from the cloud, and with more players in the market offering services and applications, such as managed service providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers, Knorr said fiber connectivity has become more important than just providing the traditional "five nines" level of service reliability.
"We're not going as deep on to the services side even though we have a wide breadth of business offerings," Knorr said. "We really want to be very focused on providing that that connectivity solution and being best in class for connectivity. Connectivity has becomes so important that many companies are looking for separate providers to provide distinct physical paths to key network locations and data centers.
"We think that's where we can come in. We try to provide those highly reliable and alternative connections to that redundancy and disaster recovery link for customers."
The business solutions division does offer a Versa Networks-based SD-WAN service, and may add more SD-WAN flavors, but Knorr said having SD-WAN in place was more for customer partners that had their SD-WAN solutions.
"We have an SD-WAN service, but we're focused on that backbone, the last mile connectivity and really defining the core infrastructure for our customers," Knorr said. "We're making a conscious effort to focus on the core network and our customers and not try to get to these cutting edge technologies that are out there. None of those cutting edge technologies work without the connectivity. As other people are more focused on the cutting edge stuff, we feel that there's an the opportunity in the marketplace to do basic things like connectivity."