- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Subscribers to high-speed Internet access from Cox Communications in Northern Virginia will pay between $5 and $10 more for service as the company switches customers from Road Runner to its own proprietary network.
The switch will affect Cox Internet users in Fairfax County. Customers will receive conversion kits and instructions on the phase-in beginning May 7 and must change to the new network by June 30 or be disconnected.
Cox Northern Virginia is making the switch to put all of its customers on the same company-owned platform and gain greater control of the service, said company spokesman Alex Horwitz.
He said the partnership with Road Runner and Cox is unusual because AOL TimeWarner and Cox are stiff competitors in the cable industry. More than 600,000 of Cox's 880,000 high-speed Internet customers already have switched over to Cox's own network. Cox is the nation's fifth-largest cable company.
The new Cox service will be comparable to Road Runner in terms of speed, allowing downloads at about 1.5 megabytesper second and upload speeds of up to 192 kilobytes per second. The new service also will offer Web-based e-mail, more e-mail addresses, Web space and local content on the Cox home page.
Cox customers who also subscribe to cable television service will pay $34.95, or $5 more than before. Those who don't subscribe to cable television service will pay $49.95, or $10 more. The new rates will go into effect July 1.
The rate difference for cable subscribers and nonsubscribers underscores a trend toward "bundled services." Cox plans to offer telephone service on the network by the second half of 2003. It has spent more than $500 million to upgrade its digital network, and the cable industry as a whole has spent more than $30 billion in upgrades in order to offer more services.
"Although the cable industry has never been known for rapid innovation or for embracing cutting-edge technologies, it has done an admirable job of provisioning digital cable services to households across the country," said Mike Paxton, a senior analyst with Cahners In-Stat, a high-tech market research firm in Phoenix.
During the transition from Road Runner, Cox Northern Virginia hopes to avoid any of the technical problems and brief service outages experienced by other Cox and Comcast customers during the transition from At Home service.
At Home, which provided high-speed service to most Cox, Comcast and AT&T; subscribers, went bankrupt last year, leaving the cable companies scrambling to place its customers on proprietary networks, which weren't complete in some areas.
Company officals say this transition from Road Runner should go more smoothly because it is by choice, rather than necessity.
"We've had time to prepare and time to think of everything to ensure that customers are transitioned smoothly," Mr. Horwitz said.
Cox customers must change their e-mail addresses as a result of the transition. They will receive new "cox.net" e-mail addresses and can keep both Road Runner and Cox.net addresses until June 30. Cox has no immediate plans to offer competing providers on its network, as Comcast has done with Netzero and Juno.


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