Cox Communications Inc. last week became the first @Home
Network partner to fire up commercial high-speed-data service to businesses over its
hybrid-fiber coaxial network.
The success of @Work until now has largely been based on
its arrangement with Teleport Communications Group, and the Cox launch is the first time
that @Work has offered service using cable plant as the line into businesses.
Although Cox and @Home's @Work division have quietly
signed up close to 50 businesses in Phoenix, San Diego and Orange County, Calif., over the
last few months, they opted to wait to publicize their moves until last week.
Officials with both companies characterized the service,
which is branded 'Cox@Work,' as a turnkey solution that provides small and
midsized businesses with high-speed access to the Internet via @Home's distributed
network and Cox's HFC plant.
David Woodrow, senior vice president of Cox, said last week
that because of the launch, businesses in those areas 'now have a high-performance,
reliable and economical way to access the Internet via cable technology and @Home's
He went on to say, 'Unlike local-exchange competitors,
which face business conflicts among their T-1 and DSL [digital subscriber line] services,
HFC Internet connectivity provides us with the opportunity to generate incremental
revenues with minimal incremental cost.'
Don Hutchinson, senior vice president and general manager
of @Work, said the move is important for small and midsized businesses because they
typically have limited monthly communications budgets.
'These are people who are left out in the cold in
terms of connectivity, because of the high existing prices of leased lines,' he said.
'This is a group that is grossly underserved, because their budgets are well south of
$1,000 per month.'
Hutchinson said the @Work product is initially seeking to
put a dent in the T-1 communications marketplace.
'This product delivers on the price-performance
ratio,' he said. 'It's unlike anything else out there, because there's
no local-line charges.'
Cox and @Work will charge a one-time set-up fee of $995,
then monthly fees of $265 for businesses with one to five users; $425 for companies with
10 to 15 users; and $575 to support 16 to 25 users.
Hutchinson and Woodrow wouldn't name specific
businesses that are taking the service.
Even without cable-based @Work services last year, the
segment weighed in for 40 percent of @Home's overall 1997 revenues, fueling
predictions that business data communications represent a rich new revenue vein for
operators, Hutchinson said.
@Work ended 1997 with 517 closed deals with businesses for
data-communications services and 331 installations, he said.