Cox Business Review
Cox Communications is an internet service provider that serves businesses of all sizes in 17 states across the U.S. Specifically, it provides service to some residents in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa. Among the larger cities Cox operates in include Cleveland, Phoenix, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, San Diego, Las Vegas and Omaha. Cox Business has internet services for small, mid-sized and enterprise-sized organizations. For smaller businesses, Cox has coaxial cable internet connections with speeds up to 300 Mbps. All of its plans have a static IP address, email accounts, online backup storage space and security licenses. Wi-Fi services for employees and guests are included with the high-speed internet service.
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Cox gives small businesses the option of bundling its other services, such as telephone, television and security solutions, with its internet service for discounted prices on each service.
For larger organizations, Cox has dedicated Ethernet service using fiber optic connections that offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The mid-size and enterprise services offer businesses dedicated bandwidth with symmetrical upload and download speeds. Other services Cox offers mid-sized and enterprise companies include hosted-voice telephone systems, business TV solutions, metro Ethernet and trunking phone services.
Cox's internet service comes with a service level agreement that provides some protections against having your internet connection go down. The company guarantees a 99.5% uptime and promises to have downed service back up and running within four hours.
For small businesses, Cox offers a variety of service plans that vary by price and internet speed. Overall, there are six plans to choose from:
- Cox Business Internet 25: This plan offers download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 5 Mbps.
- Cox Business Internet 50: This plan offers download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps.
- Cox Business Internet 100: This plan offers download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps.
- Cox Business Internet 200: This plan offers download speeds of 200 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps.
- Cox Business Internet 300: This plan offers download speeds of 300 Mbps and upload speeds of 30 Mbps.
The largest small business plan offers 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) of download speed and 35 Mbps of upload speed.
In addition to the high-speed internet services, each plan includes these other features:
- Static IP address: Static IP addresses are used by businesses that run a server, host a website or offer companywide email addresses. One static IP address is included in each service plan; however, additional addresses are available for an added monthly cost.
- Email addresses: Each service plan includes 10 branded email addresses. These email accounts allow each user to send and receive messages as large as 30 MB. Each inbox can store 2 GB of messages. While 10 addresses are included, you can add up to 50 additional inboxes as your business grows. Each email account comes with anti-spam filtering and anti-virus technology.
- Online backup: Cox's small business service plans include 25 GB of online backup. The backup service is offered through Mozy by EMC. With it, you can schedule backups to automatically run whenever you choose. This could be monthly, weekly or daily. This type of backup service can give you peace of mind should a hard drive crash, your computers are stolen or a natural disaster prevents you from getting to your business.
- Security suite licenses: The small business service plans also include 25 security suite licenses. The McAfee security suite protects your business's computers from viruses and other online threats. It provides monitoring and reporting for all your computers.
When choosing a plan, the most important question to ask is how much speed and bandwidth your business needs. Unfortunately, there is no exact science for figuring this out. The best approach is to consider are the number of employees you have and what your internet needs are.
What are your employees using the internet for? Is it for small things like browsing the web and emailing? Or do you have more sophisticated needs, such as running cloud-hosted apps, processing payments and using cloud-hosted services like VoIP telephone solutions?
None of Cox's small business plans require a contract. They are available as a month-to-month service. However, signing a contract lowers the cost considerably. For example, the monthly price for the Cox Business Internet 100 plan is $280. However, that price drops to $199 per month with a 12-month agreement.
Another way to lower costs for your internet service is to bundle it with one of Cox's other solutions, such as telephone, television or security services. For example, on their own, the Internet 25 plan, with a 12-month contract, is $90, and the Business VoiceManager Essential phone plan is $25 per month. If you bundle those two services together, the total monthly cost is $99. This is a savings of about $15 per month. The more services you bundle together, the more you can lower your per-service costs.
In addition to the small business plans, Cox Communications has a number of services for mid-size businesses and enterprises. Where available, these larger companies can tap into Cox's fiber optic network for internet speeds of between 1 Mbps and 10 Gbps. These offerings provide your company with dedicated bandwidth and symmetrical download and upload speeds. In addition to its internet, Cox offers larger organizations with multiple locations metro Ethernet service. This solution may be especially appealing for those in the healthcare, education and finance industries, as well as local and state governments.
Other services Cox provides for mid-size and enterprise organizations are hosted VoIP phone services, trunking phone services and business television solutions. Cox Communications provides customized pricing.
Pros and Cons
We were impressed with much of what Cox has to offer. What left us with the most favorable opinion was the company's service level agreement. The customer representative we spoke with said this agreement guarantees an internet uptime of at least 99.5 percent.
If your internet service is down for more than a few minutes each month, you will receive money back on your next bill. In addition, Cox also promises to get your service up and running in a timely manner should it go down. The representative we spoke with said the company will have a technician out to fix your service within four hours. However, the Cox representative we spoke to said that over the last year, the average time to fix downed internet service was 45 minutes.
Another positive of Cox's high-speed internet is the number of service plans available to small businesses. Being able to choose service plans that range in speed from 25 Mbps to 1 Gbps allows small businesses to get a plan that fits their needs, without overpaying for speed they don't need.
We were also happy with the included features in each small business service plan. Most of the providers we looked into didn't include a static IP address in their plans or the online backup. The 25 security suite licenses were also a plus in Cox's offerings.
One downside to Cox is that isn't offered in as many cities as some of its competitors. Currently, the service is only offered in 17 states. In those states, service is only offered in four cities at the most. While Cox has a lot to like, many businesses seeking an ISP won't even be able to consider this option.
Another negative is the high prices when not signing a contract. The cost of internet service was considerably higher when not signing at least a 12-month contract. While an annual contract isn't a terribly long commitment, it can put some small businesses in a bad position. What happens if you move your business to a new location and Cox doesn't serve that community? Having to sign a contract could hurt a small business's bottom line in the end.
Also, one feature that Cox doesn't offer, that some of its competitors do, is wireless backup service. This is a nice feature that could keep your business operations up and running should you lose internet service.
Different Internet Types Offered
Cox Communications offers two different internet connection types: coaxial cable and fiber optic. The small business service plans utilize the cable connections, while the enterprise plans take advantage of the fiber optic connection.
Cox's coaxial cable is a high-speed internet connection. It uses the same wires that provides cable television. Cox can send both internet service and cable service through the coaxial cable simultaneously. Cox's cable connections allow for internet speeds up to 1 Gbps.
Cox's optical network provides dedicated internet access to enterprise organizations. Fiber optic connection lines are smaller than a strand of human hair. These lines convert data carrying electrical signals to light, which is what is sent back and forth through the lines.
Fiber optic lines provide significantly increased internet speeds. This connection allows for symmetrical download and upload speeds for up to 10 Gbps. This type of connection relies on next-generation SONET, Gigabit Ethernet, and DWDN equipment and technologies.
With this connection, Cox offers burstable billing. This allows businesses to exceed their committed bandwidth and pay for those overages on an individual basis. This can provide businesses with increased bandwidth when they need it, without having to pay for it when they don't.
In addition, Cox Optical Internet supports current and emerging IP addressing options and provides a dual-stack feature. This allows businesses to maintain their current network environment while helping prepare and implement their transition to IPv6.
We were pleased with the service we received from Cox Communications. To test the level of customer support, we contacted the company by phone posing as a business owner interested in internet service.
Instead of having to wait on hold like you do with some ISPs, our call was immediately answered by a helpful representative. He first checked to ensure that the location we needed internet service at was included in Cox's service area. Once it was determined it was, the representative seemed eager to answer our questions. During the call, we talked about internet speeds, Wi-Fi service plans, installation time, customer support, security licenses, online backup, connection types and IP addresses. He answered our questions clearly and thoroughly. By the end of our call, we had a clear understanding of how the service worked and all it had to offer.
We were impressed that at no time did he try and give us a hard sell on the service. He understood we weren't looking to purchase the service immediately and instead of trying to lock down our business, offered to follow up via email so we had his contact information should we have additional questions.
It is important to note, however, that we spoke to a Cox Communications sales agent, not a support technician. Since we aren't a current customer, we were unable to get a feel for how helpful those representatives may, or may not, be.
Cox offers customer support 24/7/365 days a year. You can contact the company by phone or online. In addition to the personal support, Cox also has a variety of support and how-to-guides on its website.