January 25, 2022
Visit www.cox.com/digitalequity for more information about our affordability portfolio.
By Jeff Merritt, Cox Vice President of Roanoke Operations
The last two years made clear that access to the internet is foundational to navigating everyday life. We’ve learned just how much people rely on the internet to keep up with family, friends, work, school and services. Cox is deeply invested in communities throughout Virginia, and we’re eager to support the commonwealth’s goal of universal broadband coverage by 2024. But access to the internet is only the first step in the process of connecting all Virginians.
Already, 92% of Virginians have access to a broadband connection, offering speeds of at least 25 Mbps. Many Cox customers have speeds far exceeding this benchmark, up to 1 Gigabit per second. But until we address affordability as well as access, we won’t achieve full digital equity, which is one of Cox’s chief goals.
Why Affordability Matters
Education is often referred to as the “great equalizer.” But when students lack the tools they need to thrive, it can instead become a divide. For example, according to one survey, 70% of teachers assign homework that requires broadband access. This means students whose families can’t afford an internet connection are often left behind.
At Cox, our mission is to build a better future for the next generation. An important component of that mission is supporting students with connectivity. That’s why in 2013 we launched Connect2Compete, which offers steeply discounted internet service to low-income households with K-12 students. I’m proud to say that since Connect2Compete launched, Cox has connected nearly 14,000 people across Virginia. Throughout the pandemic, we've made Connect2Compete easier to get and increased the speeds. In Roanoke alone, we've connected 1,218 new households since 2020.
With the goal to support student success during a turbulent time, Cox also partnered with several public school districts across Virginia to offset connection costs. We know that efforts to close the digital divide have tangible benefits for students. More than 90% of parents in Connect2Compete households agreed that having low-cost internet service at home gives their children a “leg up.” Even as children return to in-person learning, these connections will remain important.
While Connect2Compete remains an essential part of Cox’s affordability portfolio, its reach is limited to households with K-12 students. In response to customer and community feedback, Cox launched a new program in November 2021 to close this gap. ConnectAssist is the latest expansion of the company’s low-cost internet service offerings. The package provides eligible customers with a high speed internet connection and modem rental for $30/month plus taxes. ConnectAssist is available to households that participate in one of these government subsidy programs: SNAP, TANF, Head Start, WIC, LIHEAP, Public Housing, Pell Grant, Veterans Pension & Survivors Benefits, Tribal Programs, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicaid.
Affordable Connectivity Program
Cox customers who qualify for ConnectAssist are also likely eligible to participate in the federal government’s new and permanent internet connectivity initiative, called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Cox is always searching for creative ways to expand our network and ensure that our friends and neighbors can benefit from our services. Federal programs such as ACP enable partnerships that will make internet more affordable for Virginians during the pandemic and beyond.
The ACP offers a $30/month subsidy for broadband service to qualifying households, meaning that in combination with ConnectAssist, it can make connecting to the internet virtually free for some customers.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 made an historic investment into broadband expansion, and we’re eager to continue collaborating with elected officials and localities to bring broadband to even more communities. We stand ready to help residents overcome any obstacles to broadband adoption, so everyone has access to the opportunities presented by a reliable internet connection. Working together, we can ensure that Virginia remains one of the top states for business and build a better future for everyone.
Learn more about Cox’s affordability efforts at www.cox.com/digitalequity.