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Cox Business Launches VPN Services

Cox Business Services has launched high-speed virtual private network services to 1,000 users in more than eight markets, and plans to expand the service to 22 markets by year-end.

VPNs allow companies to link far-flung branch offices or key customers through a private communications connection. Cable's "always on" data connection will make Cox's service more appealing to businesses than VPNs offered by other providers, the MSO said.

"We expect this to be a very significant business contributor for us," said Cox Business Services vice president of marketing and development Paul Golden.

Cox said VPN users will have downstream speeds of up to 3.2 mbps and upstream speeds of 256 kbps. Remote users can access their company's network and files as if they were in the office. Cox said it can also scale its VPN business to 1,000 tunnels and 100 megabits of throughput.

Among the 1,000 current VPN users is Oklahoma University, where 250 faculty and students have access to Cox's VPN. OU is one of 40,000 schools, businesses and government offices served by Cox's business unit.

Cox said the hardware in its VPN is based on the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS). Authentification is handled by a router and encryption device that uses an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip behind the modem.

Cox said it uses the triple data encryption standard, "which is the highest quality out there today," Golden said.

Golden said MSOs pay fees for VPN deployments at hub sites and remote sites. There are also fees for managed services and transport charges.

VPN deployment is a natural extension for Cox Business Services, Golden said.

"The overall opportunity is greater today than a few years back," he said. Over the past year, however, upstart telecommunications competitors have fallen by the wayside.

"It's a two-horse race" between cable and incumbent telephone companies to wire businesses to new phone and data services, Golden said.

"Cox represents a facilities-based competitor" for the regional Bell operating companies and incumbent local-exchange carriers, Golden said.

"We have an existing network in place," along with a name brand, he said. "There is significant greenfield opportunity for Cox."