Burke: Comcast Wants 20% of Commercial Phone Business

Cable Operator’s COO Targeting Small, Midsized Businesses

New York -- Comcast chief operating officer Stephen Burke said the company will aggressively pursue commercial customers.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference here, Burke reiterated that Comcast is targeting small and midsized businesses in its footprint for voice services, which he estimates to be a $15 billion business dominated by the telephone companies. Comcast is aiming for a 20% penetration into that market.

Right now, those customers do not have what Burke termed “facilities-based” competition. “Those businesses don’t have a wire into their office,” he added, “and we provide that wire.”

Burke said the commercial business is about to “ramp very substantially.” Over the past year, the division, headed by William Stemper, hired more than 600 people, and Comcast said it will start to see results in 2008 and 2009. The company expects to spend $250 million in 2007 to build up the division’s team and infrastructure, and it will spend $3 billion on this part of the business over the next five years.

Comcast, which already provides commercial data services, will target some 5 million businesses in its footprint that have fewer than 20 employees and fewer than 20 lines.

Comcast is layering its new growth opportunities, Burke said, so that as segments like high-speed data and video mature, areas such as commercial and another opportunity, interactive advertising, will be in their strongest growth periods.

Comcast, along with other MSOs, is focused on developing a common platform for interactive advertising. But Burke said the timetable is about two to three years before it can become a material business for the company.