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James, a Cox cable-Internet customer in Irvine, California, got an unwelcome email on Tuesday from the Internet provider. Cox’s email told James, who pays $80 a month for broadband, that his 30Mbps upload speeds will soon be reduced to 10Mbps.
A Cox spokesperson told Ars that James and similar customers can keep their 30Mbps upload speeds if they upgrade to a newer modem. But that option wasn’t included in the email to customers, which created the impression that the upload-speed cut is mandatory unless they pay for a more expensive Internet plan.
The different messages given to customers and an Ars reporter suggest that Cox is trying to get people to switch to the lower-upload speed plan and is only mentioning the option of keeping the existing plan as a last resort. Based on what we’ve learned, customers who want to keep their current upload speeds and price should talk to a Cox customer-service rep and ask for that option if the rep doesn’t mention it. Customers can keep their existing modems without losing Internet service entirely, but their upload speeds will be cut unless they upgrade to a new modem and choose to keep their existing plan. Cox has about 5.3 million broadband customers in the United States.
James, who preferred to keep his last name unpublished, is not alone in getting the bad news. Cox’s “Ultimate” Internet plan with 300Mbps download and 30Mbps upload speeds was changed to a 500Mbps download, 10Mbps upload package early last year. At first, Cox let customers on the 300Mbps/30Mbps version keep it, without any nudges to change their plans or upgrade their modems. But that changed with the email Cox sent to James and other customers this week.
Cox-certified DOCSIS 3.1 modem or the official Cox Wi-Fi gateway and that customers who want more than 10Mbps uploads should “call to learn more about equipment and our speed plans.” (DOCSIS is the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification used by the cable industry to provide Internet access over coaxial cables.)
Arris SB6183 that supports up to 686Mbps download speeds and 131Mbps upload speeds. The email also didn’t explain why upgrading to a better modem would lead to a 67 percent cut in upload speeds from 30Mbps to 10Mbps, when commonsense would suggest a modem upgrade should increase both download and upload speeds.
Cox email spurs confusion and anger
It seemed to James that the only option to keep his current upload speeds was to buy the more expensive “Gigablast” package that includes 940Mbps download speeds and 35Mbps upload speeds. The plan’s regular price is $120 a month, with a $100 promotional rate for the first 12 months. It is the only plan Cox advertises with upload speeds above 10Mbps.
“It looks like I’m either losing my 300/30 plan in favor of a 500/10 plan, or I’ll be paying Cox even more money,” James told Ars, before we did more research into the predicament. “In the middle of a pandemic where video conferences are king, Cox is trying to force folks working from home into their top tier to make a quick buck. My area in Irvine doesn’t have any alternative broadband options, so I’m stuck until 5G to the home makes an appearance or Starlink miraculously works in semi-dense urban environments.”
Other customers who received the same email complained in a Reddit thread yesterday. “Just got that same email. Work will be pissed when my productivity slows to a crawl cause uploads take 3 times as long,” one person wrote.
“Cox is fucking garbage,” another person wrote. “I used to have AT&T fiber 1000/1000 until I moved. Same price now I have 500/10. What bullshit.”