Cox Communications plans to roll out 1Gbps broadband offering before end of 2014


Cox Communications is rushing to answer the threat posed by Google Fiber and promises to offer ultra-high-speed Internet by the end of the year.

Speaking to Betty Liu at Bloomberg's Cable Show in Los Angeles, Cox chief executive Pat Esser said that customers can expect the company to roll out a 1 Gigabit-per-second broadband service before the year closes.

Cox, which is the third-largest cable provider in the United States, is jumping into the competition with Google and AT&T, which are both deploying fiber-optic broadband services at 1 Gbps, a speed a hundred times faster than what most Internet users in the country are using.

Cox has always been delivering gigabit-speed broadband services to its commercial clients, says Esser, and is now looking to expand by offering the same service to residential customers.

"I'm talking about plans over time for all of our customers in all of our markets having residential gigabit broadband speeds available to them, and we're excited about it," says [video] Esser. "Over the next two to three weeks, we'll be announcing which markets we're starting in."

While Esser acknowledges that a 1Gbps broadband service for residential customers is "overkill," the chief executive says the company is merely addressing what its customers are calling for - faster Internet.

Google first shook up the broadband industry with Google Fiber, a 1Gbps broadband service that is currently deployed in Kansas City and Provo, Utah. Google is also building another all-fiber network in Austin, Texas and is planning to penetrate 31 other locations in the country.

AT&T followed suit, having already provided a 300Mbps broadband service to customers in Austin, Texas in December, and is now vowing to increase that speed for all customers to 1Gbps by the end of the year at no additional cost.  

Time Warner Cable, which also operates in Kansas City and Austin, has stood up to AT&T's 300Mbps Internet challenge but has announced no plans to raise the speed to gigabit-level. Comcast and Verizon Communications also have not come out with any plans to upgrade.

Asked about whether better broadband technology will decrease the cost of connecting to the Internet, Esser says he thinks prices will rise with speeds.

"I think these technological changes are being done not necessarily to drive down costs but to give customers more," he says.

For its top-speed service of 50Mbps broadband, Cox charges $61 per month from its customers. However, both Google and AT&T charge only $70 for their 1Gbps broadband services and, if it wants to keep up with the competition, Cox will have to peg its ultra-fast Internet service in the same price range. 

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