By Richard Urban / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
By late next year, Cox Communications’ high-speed internet, television, phone, and home security services will be available to about 3,000 potential customers in Oracle and San Manuel in unincorporated southeastern Pinal County.
“Expansion in Pinal County is part of an overall Cox commitment of a multibillion-dollar annual infrastructure investment over the next several years to build a 10-gigabit capable, fiber-based network that will power the next generation of internet users,” said Andrea Katsenes, director of media and public relations at Cox.
“These efforts also honor our ongoing commitment to closing the digital divide by expanding broadband to underserved and unserved communities in Arizona,” she said.
Currently in the design phase, the company still needs to go through the county’s permitting process. It promises that residents, who can get status updates and inquire about signing up by visiting www.cox.com/getfiber, will see construction begin soon.
Extending service to Oracle and San Manuel builds on the company’s Pinal County service area. In Casa Grande, Cox services reach about 70 percent of the city’s residents and businesses, according to Broadband Now, the California-based internet provider research company. In Florence, its service is available in 60 percent of the city. Cox recently announced an expansion project in Maricopa, too.
“Additionally, the communities that we are investing in and expanding to represent areas of growing populations,” Katsenes said. “Cox has also been in constant contact with local elected officials and knows that having robust broadband service leads to continued growth opportunities for economic development and jobs in rural communities.”
Currently, Oracle and San Manuel residents can access the internet through Viasat Internet, which offers 100 megabits per second (Mbps) service, and HughesNet, at 25 Mbps, according to Broadband Now. Both are satellite-based providers.
CenturyLink also serves the two communities with broadband service over telephone lines and a limited fiberoptic network. According to Broadband Now, it offers a top speed of 140 Mbps over telephone lines and about 940 Mbps to just over 10 percent of Oracle.
The Cox service will offer gigabit speeds, or 1,000 Mbps.
The Federal Communications Commission defines broadband internet as 25 Mbps for downloads, which is fast enough for basic internet use, such as email, web browsing, and individual video streaming.
But today’s internet users demand higher speeds of 100 Mbps or more to support multiple users downloading movies, attending virtual meetings, and playing online games simultaneously.
Overall, 75 percent of Pinal County’s households have broadband internet access, ranking it sixth out of Arizona’s 15 counties, according to Broadband Now. About 51,000 Pinal County residents are unable to access any wired internet.
Statewide, 88 percent of the population has access to 100 Mbps or fasters broadband service, putting Arizona 36th among all states, Broadband Now estimates.
“As part of our commitment of expansion in Arizona, the Cox team continues to research and identify additional communities that make financial and practical sense for expansion, and we continue to work with local officials to vet additional opportunities,” Katsenes said.