Comcast may have been a little late to the commercial services party, but it's making up ground in a hurry.

To wit: Comcast announced today that it has extended the availability of its metro Ethernet services by adding new partners through its Comcast Business Class Solutions Provider Program. Comcast officially got into the metro Ethernet market with the launch of services in May, which included more than 20 markets across the nation.

Comcast is delivering four metro Ethernet-based services over its fiber-optic and IP network to the following markets: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Hartford, Conn., Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, the state of New Jersey, Oakland, Calif., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and western New England. Comcast said additional markets would be launched on an ongoing basis.

Medium-size businesses, which typically range from 20 to 500 employees, are starting to use more bandwidth-intensive applications such as cloud computing, business continuity and software-as-a-service (SaaS). Metro Ethernet services offer more bandwidth and usually cost less than legacy technologies such as T1 lines, frame relay and ATM.

Comcast's Metro Ethernet offering can scale in increments from 1 Mbps up to 10 Gbps with the flexibility of three different classes of service.

"The addition of our new solution provider partners with their own direct sales forces will be a key asset for bringing metro Ethernet solutions to mid-size businesses looking to increase productivity and lower costs through a high-performance network," said Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channel sales for Comcast Business Services. "We have expanded the technical and sales resources dedicated to supporting our provider partners, and we look forward to working directly with them to provide metro Ethernet solutions to customers."

Announced today at the Channel Partners Conference in Chicago, Comcast Business Services' new Solutions Provider Partners include: Crystal Technologies, Total Communications, Interactive Telecom Solutions, Telegration, Simplify, GCG, Lightstream, Bridgepointe and CTG3.

"Comcast's metro Ethernet services will be a strong addition to our existing solutions and will help us meet customers' increasing demand for greater bandwidth, flexibility and reliability as they move applications to cloud-based systems or SaaS environments," said Edward O'Connor, vice president of network sales at Total Communications. "The fact that Comcast owns and operates its own national fiber network gives us a true alternative that we can offer to our customers, backed by Comcast's resources and dedicated technical and support teams for partners."

While Comcast initially trailed more progressive cable operators, such as Cox Communications and Cablevision's Optimum Lightpath, in the commercial services sector, it has started offering more services to small- and medium-size businesses. Comcast's commercial services revenue increased by 42 percent in its most recent second quarter to $435 million.