Comcast SMB Package Squeezing Out Channel

Comcast launches a competitive IT support SMB offering across its regional footprints, competing directly with smaller MSPs and solution providers serving the same market community. The channel can fight back through specialization, customization and true customer service.

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Coming to the channel: more competition. According to a PCWorld report, Comcast Corp. is entering the SMB services space, set to deliver more than just cable and Internet. Comcast will officially be rolling out IT services, including tech support, network configuration support, cloud-based backup solutions and much more.

It all falls under the new set of business-class services Comcast is promoting to enter the SMB market. Customers can enjoy remote service management, malware removal, wireless infrastructure installation and more. For a more budget-conscious SMB, a-la-carte services are also being offered. Prices are competitive, too, with standard business support starting at just $30 per month.

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If Comcast's moves seem familiar, it's because they are. Much like the way the Best Buy Co.'s Geek Squad has slowly been eating at the managed services space, so too will Comcast compete with SMB service providers.

Make no mistake, this is a disruptive and competitive service. Furthermore, these services aren't a one-off -- these strategies are long-term evolutions for both Best Buy and Comcast alike, because both companies' traditional revenue models have been challenged, eroding on core business. But Comcast's moves are especially unsettling, since Comcast -- like many cable providers -- already have a stranglehold on regional connectivity services. More plainly, Comcast already has a foot in every door thanks to cable TV, Internet and phone.

Right now, Comcast and Best Buy are only serving their regional areas, but Comcast is set to expand beyond its initial 14 northeastern states in the near future. In short, that means the channel needs to step his game up.

How? Specialization, differentiation and dedication to customer support. Comcast is a cable company and lucky for Americans, most customers have a tenuous relationship with their ISP. MSPs and regional solution providers can combat Comcast by right-sizing solutions for the SMB, while providing consultative services that build a customer relationship. Solution providers also have  a unique advantage because of their size and relative flexibility. It is much easier for channel partners to deliver a best-in-breed cloud solution package, because than a large and less nimble company like Comcast.

But Comcast's moves shouldn't be dismissed -- in fact, it may be prudent for all solution providers to continually keep tabs on them. These big moves will certainly put smaller players out of business, narrowing down to the competition to a short list of large players. To truly stay afloat in this competitive atmosphere, channel partners need to continue to do what they do best -- deliver the value-add they are known for and continue to live up to the 'trusted advisor' status.

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