Cox to spend over $120M to deliver faster statewide broadband service

PROVIDENCE – Cox Communications announced on Tuesday that it will be investing more than $120 million over the next three years to build a sustainable, upgraded broadband network capable of delivering 10 gigabyte service across Rhode Island.

More than $20 million will go toward 100% fiber-optic buildouts to about 35,000 homes on Aquidneck Island, including Middletown, Newport, and Portsmouth and Jamestown. The rest of Rhode Island will see infrastructure broadband upgrades using hybrid fiber/coaxial cable with the company’s remaining funding.

Cox is upgrading its infrastructure statewide to improve symmetrical speeds over high-speed broadband connections. Symmetrical means that a network connection will host the same upload and download speeds.

With up to 10 GBs of broadband service, consumers will experience faster upload and downloads speeds and be able to connect multiple devices to a Wi-Fi network at the same time.

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The company plans to use a combination of fiber-to-the-premises and a hybrid fiber and coaxial cable, Data Over Cable Services Interface Specification 4.0, to meet its goals. DOCSIS 4.0 involves the transfer of high-bandwidth data using existing coaxial cable systems originally installed to homes for cable television.

Ross Nelson, senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications, said the investment is transformative.

“We are the first company to bring gigabit speeds to Rhode Island,” said Nelson. “It’s exciting time to be part of this, to continue to partner with our state leaders to bring this kind of investment to the state.”

Nelson said Cox’s investment more than matches the $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding the state has been allocated for broadband. The build by Cox will help the state to focus on other things, such as affordability, digital equity, and potential use of voucher programs, he said.

The network that is in place today across the state is a traditional HFC, or Hybrid Fiber Coax, network that Cox will be upgrading to provide the faster symmetrical speeds, he said.

“We’ve got hundreds of miles of fiber running across the state right now,” he said. “Rhode Islanders have access to 1 GB of download speeds. So, this is about bringing multi-gigs to the entire state.”

Nelson said the more than $20 million investment dedicated to Aquidneck Island will involve installing fiber-to-the-premise, or home, as the community needs an upgrading of its system.

Nelson said Cox’s effort is part of a multibillion-dollar infrastructure investment to build a 10 GB capable, fiber-based network that will power the next generation of internet users in the state. This is about the future, sustainability, and keeping pace with technology, he added.

Cox made the announcement on Tuesday at the Old Colony House in Newport, along with Gov. Daniel J. McKee and state and local officials in attendance.

“It is critically important that Cox and other internet service providers continue to make these investments in our state and for our residents,” said McKee, noting that the “pandemic taught us how important this is as we transitioned workplace and educational environments almost overnight. Rhode Island fared better than many states because of the buildout we currently have and the investments the private sector continues to make.”

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said it is integral that both residents and business owners, particularly small business owners who may work from home, have access to next generation internet speeds and capabilities.

“Today’s announcement adds to Rhode Island’s ranking as having one of the best build outs in the country,” said Ruggerio. “This announcement represents an additional investment in the form of job opportunities for Cox employees.”

Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, said. “This is tremendous news for the City of Newport and all of Aquidneck Island. We appreciate the investment Cox is making in our communities.”

Napolitano said the entire island will be well-positioned for next generation broadband capabilities with fiber running directly to every home on the island. “This is truly an exciting development,” she said.

Nelson said the ever-growing number of connected devices combined with new applications of technology, such as virtual reality learning, will demand more network capacity and increased speeds.

“We are committed to being the internet provider customers can count on to have the speed they need now and in the future,” he said.

Cox has invested more than $160 million over the last five years in Rhode Island and claims to be offering the first to make gigabit service available in the market.

Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at You may also follow him on Twitter @CassiusShuman.