Some years ago, I recall having a conversation with an experienced veteran executive in the competitive local exchange carrier industry, who was convinced cable operators would not prove a threat in the CLEC business, a point of view I never have agreed with. To be fair, the executive at the time was running a CLEC that focused more on multiple-site businesses than single-site organizations.

You can argue that both points of view are correct, that cable companies have indeed proven successful in the small business segment (perhaps 16 voice lines or fewer), but have yet to make an assault on the mid-market or enterprise segments of the market.

Integra Telecom, the Portland, Ore.-based CLEC that had in the past focused primarily on smaller accounts, might agree that cable companies are indeed a threat. In fact, Integra Telecom now hopes to focus most of its attention on larger customers.

Integra Telecom revenues, which peaked at $683 million in 2008, fell to $616 million in 2010, in part because of continuing impact of the Great Recession and in part because some smaller businesses went out of business.

But company executives would also say that new competitive threats from rivals including Comcast Corp. were a key factor.

So Integra began targeting larger customers. Integra Telecom’s challenges not unique

That same decision-making context is certain to affect other CLECs, and sales partners for CLECs, as cable operators now only continue to show they are effective in the small business market, but as they slowly gear up to tackle larger accounts as well.

Unless you believe the deal Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have to resell Verizon services is somehow invalidated by regulatory authorities, those cable operators now have many of the tools they will need to succeed in sales of products to larger organizations, not limited to wireless services.

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