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Comcast snags another customer for its Metro Ethernet service

Tue, 01/31/2012 - 1:16pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast Business Services continues it march into the mid-size market with its Metro Ethernet service with the latest customer win coming from Widener University in Pennsylvania.

In addition to cloud computing and Web-based educational tools for its 7,800 students and faculty, Widener University's use of Comcast's Ethernet service gave it a better disaster preparedness plan.

Comcast Business ClassDuring a recent blizzard a snowplow hit one of Widener's central telephone poles. The school had previously been using an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) DS3 loop to connect campus headquarters with its Delaware location, and had also implemented a secondary connection to help prevent any loss of connectivity in the event of an outage.

But onxw the snowplow struck the pole, it became apparent that both providers were using the same telephone line, which knocked out all campus connectivity until the pole was fixed.

"As a metropolitan university with campuses and affiliated K-12 school districts across the region, we were already a step ahead of most educational institutions through our investment in two different high-speed Ethernet networks," said Perry Drayfahl, director of technical resources at Widener University. "We soon realized, however, that many of these networks still ran through the same central repository, which in our case happened to be the very same repository that was struck by a snowplow. We quickly understood that we needed a separate network that was completely independent from traditional phone lines to help protect us from something like that happening again."

Comcast's Ethernet Dedicated Internet service gave Widener its own independent access to the Internet. Comcast used the existing fiber cable that resided beneath the campus, and allowed the university to completely bypass both its central communications pole and its primary data center, going straight to a secondary data center instead.

In the event of an outage, this secondary network, which also provided more bandwidth for the same price as Widener had previously been paying, would allow the university to stay connected even if its primary network went down.

"There are few places where the rapid flow of information is more essential than in a university, and ensuring that students are able to transfer homework assignments, download class lectures and access streaming video is critical to ensuring that they are making the most of their time at school," said Michael Maloney, vice president of Comcast Business Services, Freedom Region. "Disaster situations are inevitable, but our goal is to ensure that, even if an unexpected outage were to occur, the only people who are aware of an issue are those in the IT department."

After several years of development, Comcast first launched its Metro Ethernet suite of services last year, and now has them available across its entire footprint.

During its third quarter earnings report last year, Comcast announced that it had hired more than 600 new business services employees the past year to help facilitate the growth of its business services.

In the third quarter, Comcast's business services revenue increased 39 percent to $454 million.

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