Cox Begins Its First Open Access Broadband Trials

Six months after initially announcing the deal, Cox Communications, Inc. is launching its technical trial of EarthLink and America Online, Inc., Internet services over Cox’s broadband cable network in El Dorado, Ark. As part of Cox’s multiple Internet service provider (MISP) test, EarthLink and AOL high speed service will be available to 50 Internet users in Cox’s El Dorado service area.

Cox began installing the El Dorado cable modems in late September and completed the installations last week. The technical trial, originally announced in April, will last approximately six months and is Cox’s first open access trial using multiple Internet service providers (ISPs). The trials will allow Cox to test the service with the option of negotiating a definitive open access agreement.

“This trial is the first step toward bringing our high-speed customers more choice by exploring the feasibility and benefits of open access,” said Dallas Clement, senior vice president of strategy and development for the Atlanta-based Cox Communications. “By offering the services of companies like EarthLink and AOL to our customers, we can continue to add value to our high-speed product and expose more consumers to the benefits of broadband.”

Cox Communications serves approximately 6.2 million customers nationwide, making it the nation’s fifth largest cable television company. A full-service provider of telecommunications products, Cox offers an array of services, including Cox Cable; local and long distance telephone services under the Cox Digital Telephone brand; high-speed Internet access under the brands [email protected], Road Runner and Cox Express; advanced digital video programming services under the Cox Digital Cable brand; and commercial voice and data services via Cox Business Services.

“Offering cable customers a choice of ISPs has been a long-term commitment for EarthLink,” said Jon Irwin, executive vice president of member experience at the Atlanta-based EarthLink. “This agreement between EarthLink and Cox is another key step in giving customers the ability to choose their high-speed cable ISP. We look forward to reaching a definitive agreement to offer EarthLink services to all Cox customers.”

EarthLink recently launched high speed Internet service over Time Warner Cable’s network in 15 cities, representing approximately 8 million broadband homes, with additional launches planned for the near future. Time Warner Cable and AOL are both wholly-owned subsidiaries of AOL Time Warner .

In addition to the Cox and Time Warner cable deals, EarthLink has reached testing agreements with AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable Communications and has offered co-branded service over Charter Communications’ network since 1997.

The company also offers high-speed Internet service via DSL in 90-plus markets and two-way satellite nationwide, making EarthLink the only Internet provider to offer service using all three major broadband technologies.

“We are very pleased to join Cox in this trial. At America Online, we are committed to making it as easy and convenient as possible for consumers to get the AOL service they love, whenever, wherever and however they want it. We are very excited about adding high-speed cable to the list of ways in which AOL members in El Dorado can access their accounts,” said Lou Borrelli, senior vice president for the Dulles, Va.-based AOL Broadband.

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