Cox Communications, the largest private broadband company in the United States, announced July 11 that it will invest at least $60 million over the next three years to deliver multi-gigabit internet service in the Santa Barbara South Coast community.
Mark Greatrex, the president of Cox, told the Business Times the Santa Barbara area is a “heritage market for us.”
He announced the investment during the company’s “Smart Stories Smart Home” event hosted at The Marc apartments on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara.
The spending in Santa Barbara County is part of a larger, multibillion-dollar annual infrastructure investment by Cox across the country over the next several years to build a 10-gigabit capable, fiber-based network that will power the next generation of internet users.
“When we think about working on bridging the digital divide, here in Santa Barbara, based on all the years of investment, pretty much everyone is connected and well-served,” Greatrex said.
“The community has been good to us, and we love being part of the South Santa Barbara County community. It’s been an incredible partnership.”
Breakthrough developments in cable broadband technology combined with fiber will allow Cox to deliver multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds in the coming years to both residential and business customers to support a growing host of high bandwidth applications, the company said in a press release. For example, Greatrex said, the improved bandwidth will help Cox customers take advantage of new Web 3.0 technologies.
The new cable technology, known as DOCSIS 4.0, is capable of delivering downstream speeds of 10 gigabits per second and an upstream of up to 6 gigabits per second, which would be two times and four times faster, respectively, from the current standard under DOCSIS 3.1.
“All this means is faster speeds, both downloading and uploading. It means lower latency computing — if you think about autonomous driving vehicles, they need to make decisions in a split second, so there’s no time for data to travel across country,” Greatrex said.
Regarding Web 3.0, Greatrex said he sees three categories of experiences that the Cox network is going to be powering. The first is more advanced virtual and augmented reality applications; the second is more smart homes, which come equipped with a slew of connected technology; and the third is real-time decision making.
“Today, we have just over 2 billion smart devices here in North America. By the end of the decade, it’ll be over 6 billion, and those smart devices need to be making real-time decisions so we’re preparing our network to be ready for all of those use cases,” Greatrex said.
Cox has already invested $60 million over the past five years in the Santa Barbara area. That money was used to upgrade the company’s broadband network and existing infrastructure.
Those improvements paid off, Greatrex said, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people began working from home and otherwise increasing their internet usage.
“Our intent is to always be planning ahead, which is part of being open and public about the level of investment it’s going to take to build the network of the future,” he said.
Cox employs about 18,000 people nationally, 1,600 in California, and about 100 in Santa Barbara County. With its new investments, the company aims to hire more people in the local area, especially following the renovation of its campus in Goleta, said Kirsten McLaughlin, the Santa Barbara market vice president for Cox Communications.
“We are finishing up some new lab space and provisioning space and we’re also finishing up brand new warehouse space for supply chain so everything’s been upgraded or will be in the next few months,” McLaughlin said.