Cox Adds ‘Premium’ Data Tier

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Cox Communications Inc. confirmed that it has launched three tiers of high-speed-data service in nine markets, including a premium tier that provides users with an extra megabit per second of downstream speed for almost double the price of Cox’s flagship high-speed-data service.

The "Premiere" service is part of a three-tier high-speed-data service the MSO has been toying with for months. Premiere offers speeds of 4 mbps downstream and 384 kilobits per second upstream for $79.95 per month ($94.95 if it is the only Cox service taken).

The Premiere tier is in addition to Cox’s flagship "Preferred" service (3 mbps downstream, 256 kbps upstream for $39.95 per month) and its "Value" package (128 kbps both downstream and upstream for $24.95).

Analyst Richard Greenfield of Fulcrum Global Partners LLC published a research note about the previously undisclosed higher-priced data tiers Wednesday.

The highest-speed tier is targeted at intensive bandwidth users -- customers with home networks, online gamers and those who want to enhance the quality of their Webcams.

Cox spokeswoman Laura Oberhelman said the tiers were launched in Phoenix/Tucson, Ariz.; Macon, Ga.; Santa Barbara/Bakersfield and Eureka/Humboldt, Calif.; and northern Virginia in October. The New Orleans, Kansas, San Diego and west Texas markets were added in November and December.

She added that in Phoenix/Tucson and New Orleans, systems are only marketing the lower-tier Value package as a retention tool.

"We have not thrown our arsenal of marketing at it yet," Oberhelman said. "It’s too soon to tell what the uptake is, but the Value package has proven to be really successful in reducing attrition."

Oberhelman added that Cox is planning to expand the tiering strategy to other markets, but she declined to name them.

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