As the weeks of our COVID-19 self-isolation wear on, residents are understandably concerned about how they will remain connected now and in the future. One of life’s most important connections right now is the internet, and your local provider, Cox Communications, has taken swift action to help you remain connected throughout this crisis and to help our community endure.


We’re working to connect everyone


Our infrastructure reaches almost every home in Gainesville, and the vast majority of homes in the entire county. We are as widely available in the Northeast’s Duval neighborhood as we are in the Southwest’s Tioga.


Yet, we know there are some families who are not currently connected to high-speed internet, and their children are at risk of falling behind in school. Our Connect2Compete program offers low-cost internet to families on government assistance who have K-12 children, and it is free until July 15 for first-time internet customers who sign up by May 15.


The equipment is provided at no extra cost, installation is easy, and there are no annual contracts. When we return to normal billing, the rate will still be just $9.95/month for customers who choose to remain connected.


Cox has invited area schools to help identify families that need connectivity and may qualify, and those residents are being fast tracked for connection. Residents can visit www.cox.com/C2C from a mobile phone to sign up.


Those who do not qualify for Connect2Compete can take advantage of a $19.99 offer for new Starter internet customers through May 15, with a free first month and no annual contract or qualifications. We’ve also temporarily increased download speeds on both offerings to 50 Mbps through July 15.


We have plenty of capacity for all


Our response to increased demand actually began years ago, when we started planning and building for the network of the future. We always have managed our infrastructure to make sure it is enabled for what’s coming eight to ten years from now.


Two years ago, we fully enabled our Gainesville market with gigabit speeds. Cox demonstrated this by equipping a local home with 60-plus internet connected devices, which easily ran simultaneously on our network.


Businesses in the area can enjoy 10 gig speeds to support their needs as well. While others are thinking about 5G, Cox is working now to enable 10G residential service in the near future, far ahead of demand.


Consequently, the shift in volumes from our business sectors into our neighborhoods was seamless. Families who are working and learning at home have capacity in their homes to remain connected.


Our field technicians have not skipped a beat and are working around the clock to monitor and maintain the network. We opened an additional 100 gigs of capacity and sped up planned speed increases for our Essentials customers.


There is plenty of bandwidth to maintain this new normal. Cox has waived late fees on internet and telephone services for customers who contact us with an inability to pay due to COVID-19 disruption.


We’re keeping you safe


Since March 10, any Cox employee who could work from home was asked to do so. Our field technicians started taking extra precautions and established no-contact protocols for customer support. We launched the Help Lightning App so that our Cox Field Techs can offer virtual assistance to our customers from outside their homes.


To access support, customers simply request help as they normally would through the Cox website or Connect app. A technician then contacts the customer for a call, text or video chat. Retail stores are open to serve increased connectivity needs but have abbreviated hours to allow for cleaning all equipment, and sneeze guards have been installed to protect our customers and teammates.


We remain committed to the community


Locally, Cox has contributed more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind support to our local non-profits through direct donations and even more in free advertising to support local restaurants. The James M. Cox Foundation has committed $5 million to support COVID-19 research and testing.


We will continue to work with local groups to play our part in supporting the community where we live and work. You can trust that we will keep you connected to the things and people you love, especially during this time when most of those connections take place from the safety of your home.


Aimee Pfannenstiel is market vice president for Cox Communications Central Florida.