Comcast rolled out a new product suite on Wednesday aimed at the hospitality industry, promising an integrated package of video, Internet, voice and Ethernet services with the simplicity of dealing with a single provider.
Mike Maloney, vice president for the Comcast Freedom division that includes the Jersey Shore and its many hotels and motels, said the company has been developing such commercial offerings for a few years and is extending them into a hospitality-specific offering.
For smaller properties, Comcast Business Hospitality will remind operators of the company’s widely promoted and successful Triple Play deal for residential subscribers.
Maloney said the nation’s largest cable operator can offer smaller motels video, data and voice services for themselves and their customers that are cost-effective for all of their properties.
He said such a system will allow small operators to make subsequent upgrades, for example to better televisions or high-definition service, with simple adjustments to existing equipment.
On top of the usual Triple Play components, Comcast Business Hospitality offers additional features and add-ons, such as Microsoft tools, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange. “They can use those to assist in running their business,” Maloney said.
Larger hotels, such as the major casino hotels in Atlantic City, typically already have high-end flat-screen televisions and high-definition service, he said.
For them, the hospitality package offers a suite of enterprise services based on larger bandwidth and higher speeds, sometimes delivered over fiber optic lines instead of ordinary coaxial cable, he said.
Large hotels can benefit from easy scalability, which would let them start with 10 megabit service and increase it in 10-megabit blocks up to 100-megabit as needed, he said.
“Sometimes you want to upgrade even for a short period of time, such as a convention, and we can increase bandwidth to accommodate that activity,” Maloney said. “Once installed, we can work with them to provide bandwidth that they don’t have to run the rest of the year.”
Advanced features also allow properties to centrally manage the services to customers in their rooms without a set-top box of any kind.
While temporary adjustments to the level of service are possible, there will be no return to the company’s past practice of letting some shore hotels sign up for service on a seasonal basis.
Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said the company has completed its transition away from seasonal contracts, the last of which were available to some properties in Cape May County.
“We have all year-round arrangements now,” Alexander said.
Maloney said Comcast Business Hospitality is being marketed nationwide, with no special push in any particular geographic or hotel-rich region such as the shore.
For more information about the hospitality packages, visit http://business.comcast.com/enterprise/industry-solutions/hospitality.
Free tax preparation
Households with less than $51,000 per year in income can have their 2012 taxes prepared for free by an IRS-supported service from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
The Volunteer Income Tax Program will use trained volunteers to prepare tax returns for individuals and families under that income limit at five locations throughout Atlantic County: in Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Egg Harbor City, Hammonton and Galloway Township.
The program also educates clients about tax credits, some of which can pay filers thousands of dollars even if the don’t have federal income tax due.
Last year, the program completed 267 returns in Atlantic County and claimed refunds and credits totaling more than $250,000.
Tax preparation sites will be open starting Tuesday, and necessary appointments may be made by calling 609-404-4483.
For more information on the program, visit www.unitedforimpact.org/VITA.
The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce board of directors this past week called for $20 million in emergency supplemental funding of the state’s tourism promotions in response to the negative publicity associated with Hurricane Sandy.
The proposal by the N.J. Travel Industry Association is the subject of bills in the state Senate and Assembly.
Vicki Clark, the chamber’s president and also vice president of the association, said that even in normal times, studies have shown money spent on tourism promotion generates 36 times as much revenue for the state treasury.
“National media coverage during and after Hurricane Sandy created the perception that the entire 27 miles of New Jersey’s coast was destroyed,” Clark said in a statement. “Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina are using that to their advantage and are aggressively marketing to our customer base.”
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