Cox’s 1-Gig Service Rises in Phoenix

Phoenix, already known for its scorching temperatures, is rapidly becoming a hotbed for 1 Gigabit-per-second broadband.

Cox Communications last week moved forward on an ambitious plan to eventually offer Gigabit speeds across all its systems by launching a residential service in Phoenix that is selling for $99 per month as a standalone service and $69.99 per month when matched with one of Cox’s “most-popular service bundles.”

Cox, which is marketing the new service under the “G1GABLAST” brand, announced earlier this year that Phoenix would be the first market to get residential 1 Gbps speeds, with Las Vegas and Omaha to follow. Cox has also pledged to begin market-wide deployment of Gigabit speeds by the end of 2016.

Cox is booting up 1-Gbps residential service as it feels pressure from competitors. CenturyLink Communications, for example, has begun to deploy a fiber-based 1-Gig service in parts of Omaha, Neb., and Salt Lake City, and has identified Phoenix among 13 other markets that will also be getting it. Phoenix is also one of the regions Google Fiber is considering for a potential expansion into nine metro U.S. markets.

Not all of Cox’s customers in Phoenix will get access to the new 1-Gig offering, or at least not right away. Cox said it will make the service available to more than 5,000 homes in Phoenix by the end of this year, with “an aggressive roadmap” to broaden availability of the new G1GABLAST offering to 150,000 homes by the end of 2015.

Cox hasn’t outlined its technology roadmap for its 1-Gig rollout, but Kevin Hart, Cox’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, recently told Multichannel News the new service will initially be delivered using a targeted deployment of fiber-to-the-home technologies, and branch out more broadly using DOCSIS 3.1 as that technology becomes available.

Ahead of the commercial availably of DOCSIS 3.1, Cox is using multiple factors, including a pre-registration process, to determine its initial 1-Gig build curve. That build will target a mix of greenfield areas, including new multiple dwelling units and other new housing developments, as well as “some overbuild for existing neighborhoods,” Hart said.

Cox is also in the process of rolling out free upgrades that double the maximum downstream speeds of the MSO’s two most popular DOCSIS 3.0-powered broadband tiers, with Cox Preferred rising from 25 Megabits per second to 50 Mbps, and Premiere jumping from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps.

Cox expects to complete those upgrades in all markets by the end of the year.