Cox Goes National With Connect2Compete Initiative

Following a string of launches last year, Cox Communications has gone national with the rollout of a discounted Internet product that’s linked to the cable industry-backed Connect2Compete initiative.

The Connect2Compete program targets low-income families with children that qualify for the National Free School Lunch program. Cox is offering its Starter Internet service to eligible families for $9.95 per month for two years, including free installation and modem rental fees. The program also offers access to low-cost computers and free digital literacy training to families.

According to the Pew Research Center, less than half of low-income K-12 students across America have broadband at home compared to more than 90 percent of higher-income families. The Connect2Compete program was created to help bridge that gap.

Cox first partnered Connect2Compete in April 2012, rolling it out to eligible families in San Diego, Calif.  That fall, the MSO it expanded the program to five additional markets:  Macon, Ga.; Providence, R.I.; New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge, La.; and Oklahoma City, Okla. The Atlanta-based MSO serves 6.2 million homes and businesses.

“Cox has a long history of supporting broadband adoption programs across the country, and doing so in a way that connects the most vulnerable members of our society - our children - so they can compete and have a greater chance of success in the digital world that awaits them,” said Cox Communications president Pat Esser, in a statement.

Connect2Compete is the cable operator-backed public-private partnership for broadband deployment and adoption to low-income households who are not currently broadband subs.  C2C was launched by the Federal Communications Commission last November, expanding on Comcast's Internet Essentials model.  Comcast's program, now in its second year and a voluntary commitment tied to its acquisition of NBC Universal, has signed up more than 150,000 families so far.

C2C, meanwhile, has a three-year goal of raising $20 million to help provide computers, access and training.