Gigabit Cities

Cox Goes Gaga Over Gigabit

Following through on its speed upgrade pledges of the spring, Cox Communications will roll out gigabit service in its first market later this month, thus becoming the first major North American cable operator to do so.

Cox Communications Inc. , the third-largest MSO in the US with about 4 million broadband customers, announced plans Monday to launch 1Gbit/s downstream service in parts of the Phoenix metro area by the end of October. It then aims to extend service to parts of Las Vegas and Omaha, Neb., as well as new housing developments in all of its markets, under the brand name of "Gigablast." Plans call for the blanketing all of the MSO's regions with gigabit service by the end of 2016. (See Cox Lays Out Gigabit Roadmap .)

In all three markets, Cox will go up against CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), which has been one of the most aggressive telcos in rolling out 1Gbit/s service. CenturyLink, which began offering gigabit service in Las Vegas last fall and in Omaha last May, has since expanded the next-gen broadband service to more than a dozen other markets, including Phoenix.

Cox may also have to joust with Google Fiber Inc. , which is looking to expand in the Southwest. Earlier this year, Google Fiber announced that it was targeting nine major metro regions for expansion, including such Cox bastions as Phoenix. (See Google Fiber Shifts Into High Gear.)

Track the latest intelligence on Gigabit Cities on our broadband/FTTX channel here at Light Reading.

In its announcement yesterday, Cox did not reveal the maximum upstream speeds it will offer in Phoenix and elsewhere. But the MSO did say it will provide broadband customers in those areas with "the latest high-speed WiFi router," one terabyte of cloud storage security software and 10 email boxes, each with 15 gigabytes of storage.

Cox intends to charge $99 a month for Gigablast as a standalone service. The monthly cost will drop as low as $69 a month if Gigablast is bundled with other cable services, thus matching the $70 monthly price tag established by Google Fiber for its 1Gbit/s service in Kansas City and elsewhere.

It's not exactly clear how Cox will deliver such fast speeds in Phoenix, Omaha, Las Vegas and elsewhere. But Cox CTO Kevin Hart has told Multichannel News that the MSO will use a combination of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) links and DOCSIS 3.1 technology to provide the service,depending upon the area and the timing.

In addition to rolling out 1-Gig service, Cox said it has doubled download speeds for its two most popular broadband service tiers -- Preferred and Premier. The maximum speeds for Preferred subscriber has jumped from 25 Mbit/s to 50 Mbit/s, while the top rate for Premier subscribers has jumped from 50 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s. Cox says more than 70% of its high-speed data customers now take one of those two tiers.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

justanotheruser 12/8/2014 | 4:10:29 PM
Real prices Looking at the price range, most of the people I've talked to so far are going to jump ship as soon as Google makes it to town, the current price for cox is $73.99 for 100 Mbit/s, most of the people I work with, don't have any interest on the bundle prices, as they evaporate once the promotion is over, the only reason users have selected Cox on the Phoenix area is because there is no other choice for high speed, Century Link is slow as a snail in most areas, the fact is that most providers are just full of hidden gotchas and Google provides a better impression
sam masud 10/8/2014 | 2:21:07 PM
Re: Specifics... Alan,

I must be having a bad hair day I wish), because in your post you say it is asymmetric as it supports up to 1 gig upstream. Okay, so if it does 1 gig downstream and can also provide 1 gig upstream, then isn't it symmetric? Or did you mean to say that it is asymmetric because it also supports speeds less than 1 gig upstream...?

Sorry, but not trying to nitpick, just want to be sure that is what you meant.


KBode 10/7/2014 | 2:35:48 PM
Re: Specifics... Interesting, thanks. I didn't see the 5,000 customers mark in the press release. They've previously stated they won't even start 1 Gbps services to most users until 2016 when DOCSIS 3.1 is fully cooked. 
KBode 10/7/2014 | 2:33:53 PM
Re: Specifics... Well they say everyone will get 1 Gbps eventually, but I believe they're talking about DOCSIS 3.1, and Cox has said they won't even BEGIN to deploy that technology until 2016. I think cable companies were already thinking about pushing fiber to a few high-end developments, but the rise of Google Fiber has resulted in them putting a very glossy coat of paint on those efforts.
alanbreznick 10/7/2014 | 1:35:43 PM
Re: Good price I think you should start the lobbying campaign for San Diego now, Mitch. Seriously, I bet SD is high on the list for nxt year. Just need some other BB provider to take the fist step and spur Cox to act even faster.  
alanbreznick 10/7/2014 | 1:33:22 PM
Re: Specifics... Good point. But we do have a few more specifics now. First, Cox plans to offer Gigablast to 5,000 customers by the end of this year and then 150,000 homes by the close of 2015. Second, the service will be symmetrical, offering top upstream speeds of 1 Gig as well. Third, Cox confirmed it will use a combo of fiber links and DOCSIS 3.1 tecvhnology (when that becomes available) to provide the service.

Hope that all helps. 

Mitch Wagner 10/7/2014 | 1:24:57 PM
Good price $99/mo. seems like a good price. That contrasts with another recent gigabit announcement, something like $300+/mo. 

The only thing wrong with this service is that it's not coming soon to San Diego, where I and my wife live, and are Cox customers!
jasonmeyers 10/7/2014 | 1:15:02 PM
Re: Specifics... I agree -- "parts of the Phoenix metro market" sounds like it could be a fairly limited deployment. 
KBode 10/7/2014 | 1:08:44 PM
Specifics... Unfortunately here's another announcement where the company in question doesn't say, at any point, precisely how many users are going to see service. 1 Gbps is well and good, but not if it's only to a few thousand high-end development homes.
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