Comcast Business introduced an internet add-on that will help keep small to midsize businesses up and running in the event of network interruptions or outages.
The latest product, Comcast Business Connection Pro, is an automatic 4G LTE cellular backup offering that can power critical business functions, such as email and cloud applications, with internet speeds up to 1 GBps during outages.
Connection Pro is available through Comcast channel partners today, and presents another revenue opportunity for solution providers, said Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast Business’ vice president of indirect channels.
"Our customers and partners have both been asking for this service," Schlagbaum told CRN. "For a small increase in monthly fees [for customers], Connection Pro is a turnkey solution for our partners that gives them the ability to propose a broadband solution that has essentially 100 percent uptime. This also increases the total ARPU [average revenue per user] for the services they are selling, and thereby adds additional commissions for their sales efforts."
During a power outage or network failure, Connection Pro automatically connects to the stronger of two redundant wireless networks. This lets SMBs continue to power critical business functions, including point-of-sale systems, back-office connections and cloud-based applications, without experiencing or succumbing to any disruption. Customers and partners can monitor the status of services via an online portal. The customer or solution provider also will receive alerts if and when the broadband connection has automatically failed over to their wireless connection, and again when their service is back up and running and they have been returned to the broadband network.
Connection Pro's battery life gives businesses the ability to power systems and applications for up to eight hours, according to Comcast.
"I think this offering will be incredibly well received by partners and end customers alike – it's like the ultimate internet insurance policy for SMBs," said Brooke Frank, president of Distributed Computing, a Baltimore-based solution provider and Comcast Platinum Partner.
In the past, solution providers have had to make policy decisions or do hard failovers for their customers during an outage. Connection Pro, however, requires no user intervention, he said.
Distributed Computing plans on offering Connection Pro to its base of SMB customers, and Frank believes that it will be a "default add-on" for any SMB customer ordering coax-based services within the Comcast footprint.
"As applications and services move off-premise and into the cloud, all businesses need a persistent internet connection," Frank said. "Connection Pro should be included every time we sell [Comcast Business Internet], so this will impact our sales for sure."
Comcast Business' Schlagbaum said Connection Pro improves the reliability of Comcast's broadband internet services. Unlike its fiber-based services, broadband doesn't carry a service-level agreement.
"This service provides additional peace of mind for the customer using broadband in the event of any outage," he said.
The Philadelphia-based cable giant will offer tools and training for partners on Connection Pro, Comcast said.
Connection Pro is available to Business Internet customers for an additional $29.95 per month with a term agreement. The price point for that peace of mind, Distributed Computing's Frank said, will help drive sales for Comcast's Business-class internet offering.
"The price point for the equipment, backup battery and that that level of resiliency with carrier failover to the wireless network is unheard of, and that's what will make this a truly compelling product for smaller businesses," he said.