Comcast today launched a new cloud-based voice and unified communications offering that targets business users—a logical move for a company that has been seeing strong growth in the business market. Initially the offering will be available in most of Comcast’s Northeastern Division, as well as Chicago. A nationwide rollout is planned later this year.
The new offering, dubbed Comcast Business VoiceEdge, is “fully managed over Comcast’s network” and eliminates the need for customers to have costly PBX or key systems, Comcast said in today’s announcement.
“What sets Comcast apart from other players in this space is that we’re the only provider to combine a cloud-based voice service with vast network reach, a well-known brand and a strong focus on providing great products with high quality and consistency,” said Bill Stemper, president of Comcasat Business Services, in the announcement.
As a report by the Philadelphia Business Journal notes, Comcast’s business service revenues totaled $1.79 billion for 2011. That number was a small fraction of the company’s total $19.6 billion annual revenues—but with an increase of 41% over 2010, the business market was Comcast’s fastest growing business segment.
Much of Comcast’s business growth has been driven by data services such as Ethernet. But now that the company has a foot in the door with business customers, it’s a logical move to expand the portfolio of products the company can offer those customers.
A Comcast executive told the Business Journal that Business VoiceEdge was made possible by VoIP technology that Comcast acquired when it bought VoIP-focused New Global Telecom two years ago.
Customers who sign up for Business VoiceEdge get Polycom phones at no additional charge if they commit to a three-year contract, the Business Journal said. Pricing is based on the number of lines a customer orders as well as the number of users—starting at $24.95 per line and $9.95 per user, the Business Journal report stated.
Other features of the new offering, according to Comcast, include:
- BeAnywhere: a capability that lets workers integrate their work line with their mobile device, home office or other locations to have calls follow them
- Telephony Toolbar: a downloadable client that enables click-to-dial and services management from Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox
- Business Voice Continuity: redirects calls to back-up numbers if there is a power outage or other on-site issues
- Extension dialing: enables employees to dial another employee’s line by dialing the employee’s extension number between sites and to share a receptionist across offices