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Even those not paying for the new service should notice faster speeds on their existing plans.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Cox Communications upgraded its network in the Roanoke Valley on Wednesday, introducing customers to Internet speeds it has never before made available in the region.
The new “Ultimate High Speed” Internet service is more than six times faster than the company’s previous top-tier offering in Roanoke, Roanoke County and Vinton.
But even those not interested in paying for the new high-end service should start to notice faster speeds on their existing plans. For some customers, download speeds will triple without any rise in price.
Cox hasn’t installed the kind of fiber-optic cables some communities are calling game changers for economic development, but it has invested $4.6 million to improve its Roanoke network.
After two years of work, the company flipped the proverbial switch while the city was asleep Tuesday night. By the time customers woke up on Wednesday, those who used to download at a rate of 15 megabits per second were reaching 50 Mbps.
The new Ultimate connection will reach as high as 100 Mbps. That service will cost $99.99 a month, but other tiers will stay the same price despite the speed increase, according to Cox spokeswoman Emma Inman.
“It can support more interfaces in the home, and that’s really what this is about,” said Kim Stanley , Cox’s market vice president of Roanoke operations. “We know that our customers want their bandwidth and they want it for multiple access points, whether it be their iPad, their computer, however they stream video, all those things. Now they’ll notice they can have multiple devices and they have faster speeds for those devices. That’s where I think the consumer is really going to notice.”
Internet capabilities have been major areas of concern for Roanoke Valley planners. Blacksburg-based consulting firm Design Nine released a 265-page report to assess the issue in 2012. It concluded the region is falling behind as other communities invest in fiber-optic cables capable of delivering one gigabit Internet, which is 10 times faster than Cox’s 100 Mbps.
“That’s a big improvement for the area. If you have Cox and need those higher speeds, it’s a good option. But it’s not fiber,” Design Nine President and CEO Andrew Cohill said.
But by all accounts, Cox’s upgrades are a step in the right direction.
“We’ve continued to support this area and invest in our network. We’re an active partner with the [Design Nine] study and moving Roanoke forward,” Stanley said. “I think it just proves, once again, our commitment to this area and to have available bandwidth in this area because it’s so important to economic development. We really do believe that and that’s why we’re committed to this.”
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