Cox Offers Self-Install Modem Option

Cox Communications Inc. said last week that it has begun offering new Cox@Home customers in its Omaha market the option of self-installing their high-speed cable modems.

Cable customers can buy "Quick-Start" self-installation kits at local independent retailers. The kit includes a CD-ROM with step-by-step instructions, as well as printed guides and cables. The kit does not include the cable modem, which also is available for sale at participating retailers or directly through Cox.

The self-installation launch comes on the heels of a very successful trial, Cox chief financial officer Jimmy Hayes said in an earnings call last Tuesday. Self-installation is just one of three options in what Cox refers to internally as "the choice program," he added.

Cox also will continue to offer professional installation, as well as an assisted installation option in which the subscriber loads the software onto their personal computer but asks Cox to handle the wiring.

The three options are aimed at different customer segments, Hayes noted. Especially for anyone who might be intimidated by the relatively complex process involved, full professional installation remains the most popular option among new cable modem customers, Hayes said. But a full installation charge goes along with the option.

For those interested in saving about half the cost of a full professional installation, an assisted installation holds the most appeal. The MSO wins, too, Hayes said, because the time saved by the installers can be used to connect customers to other new services, such as digital cable and telephone.

Customers who choose the self-install kit can have their new high-speed service operational within hours of the cable modem purchase without scheduling a professional installation, Hayes said.

Although the MSO saves labor time when new customers choose to handle part or all of the installation process themselves, all the options in "the choice program" require a truck roll because Cox must remove a filter at the home.

Cox plans to roll out a self-installation option in all its systems by the end of the year, residential data services director of marketing Steve Gorman said in a press release last week.

Other MSOs, including Cablevision Systems Corp. and Comcast Corp., also offer self-installation kits. Cablevision has been most aggressive in pushing self-installation to date.

About 85 percent of Cox@Home customers who purchase a cable modem today buy them directly from Cox, Hayes said, adding that the MSO is starting to see a faster growth curve in modem sales from third parties, including retailers, mail order and online merchants.