Cox Cuts A Deal With Riverstone

Cox makes inroads on high-speed data network as Excite threatens to end service.
Broadband cable operator Cox Communications Inc. is moving ahead with its plans to create a high-speed data network. The company is entering an agreement with metropolitan area networking company Riverstone Networks Inc. to deploy hundreds of Riverstone's metropolitan routers throughout all 28 of its U.S. cable systems.

Cox intends to use Riverstone's metro-optimized routers to increase capacity and enhance the reliability of its high-speed data network. Cox initially will deploy RS 3000 metro access routers, as well as RS 8000/8600 multiservice metro routers and RS 38000 metro aggregation routers, extending carrier-grade availability to Cox's newly upgraded national and regional network.

Earlier this year, Cox began plans to build its own high-speed data network when it ended relations with [email protected], which had provided Cox customers with cable Internet service. Cox intends to complete the network by June, when its Excite contract expires. Excite, in the middle of bankruptcy procedures, has said its @Home consumer subscribers could lose their Internet service as soon as Nov. 30, if Excite fails to renegotiate service contracts with cable companies that resell its service.

"Cox, like many other cable operators, will have to make the decision whether to partner with another ISP after Excite terminates network service or to have a homegrown ISP to support their customers," says Imran Khan, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group. Cox and other cable operators would be better off bringing in an Internet service provider with strong experience in content development and distribution, such as EarthLink Inc. or AOL Time Warner, rather than spend the time and financial resources to develop an ISP, Khan says.

If Excite suspends its @Home consumer Internet service this week, its business customers using the @Work business-class cable network will not be impacted, says an Excite spokeswoman, simply because the @Work contracts are not being considered for renegotiation.