Cox to switch Oklahoma customers to new network

Friday, January 4th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Thousands of Cox Communications customers in Oklahoma will be hooked up to a new network by the end of the month so they will not lose Internet service.

ExciteHome, which has provided Internet service for Cox and other companies, threatened last month to disconnect service to three million customers.

Cox quickly finished a $150 million network and will hire about a dozen people in Oklahoma City to operate it, said Cox spokeswoman Pamela Vann.

ExciteHome filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and a bankruptcy judge ruled the company could shut down its network in December to save money.

California-based ExciteHome has provided high-speed Internet service to Cox, AT&T, Comcast and other cable companies. ExciteHome disconnected 850,000 AT&T Internet customers after rejecting that company's $307 million bid to buy ExciteHome's network.

Atlanta-based Cox and Comcast negotiated $160 million deals to get ExciteHome to continue providing service for three months. Smaller cable companies chipped in, bringing the total payment to the company to about $355 million, according to Salomon Smith Barney.

Cox and Comcast have started moving customers from the old network onto their new networks as the deadline looms.

The entire Cox transition is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, a month ahead of when the ExciteHome contract expires, Vann said.

Cox has 555,000 residential CoxHome customers and more than 20,000 Home commercial business customers in Oklahoma.

``By creating our own network and managing it ourselves, we are in a better position to maintain reliability and performance, while also delivering customer service that meets Cox's high standards,'' Dave Bialis, vice president and general manager of Cox Communications Oklahoma, said in a statement

Oklahoma's CoxHome customers will receive a conversion kit during the next few weeks that will provide discs and instructions on setting up their new Cox High Speed Internet service.

Cox provides high-speed Internet access to customers in Midwest City, Nichols Hills and other areas under the brand RoadRunner. Those customers will be transferred to Cox High Speed Internet service in mid-2002, Vann said.