UPDATED: Cox Cable is testing a new “Elite Gamer Service” that is designed to speed up connections between gamers and games, but which the company says doesn’t prioritize internet use.
The service began testing in Arizona this week and Cox tells Variety it plans to run the test for about three weeks. The $15 a month service only works with Windows PCs.
“Elite Gamer Service” is actually a repackaging of WTFast’s own gaming service which is advertised as a technology that essentially finds the fastest route between a gamer and the game they’re playing.
A Cox spokesperson said that the service is not a “fast lane” service and that it doesn’t do anything to the Cox network, but instead relies entirely on the WTFast technology to smooth out connections.
Cox Elite Gamer “automatically finds a faster path for your PC game data, reducing the lag, ping spikes, and jitter that stand in the way of winning,” according to the official site for the service. The site also notes that compared to standard Cox Internet, users will experience up to 34% less lag, 55% fewer ping spikes, and 45% less jitter.
The $15 a month service includes access for two computer users and requires Cox Internet Preferred 100 Internet service or above.
In the terms of service on the website, Cox notes that membership to the Cox Elite Gamer Service permits users to route their game activity for select games through a dedicated gaming network.
“The service does not include the provision of any other service, such as cable television service, high-speed internet service or digital voice service, all of which have separate terms of service and policies,” according to the site.
The service lists specific games that Cox says will be supported by the service, including “Fortnite,” “Overwatch,” and “Apex Legends.” That list of games may change at any time, according to the site.
The service also includes a dashboard that lets users access real-time and historical information on their connection health.
Net neutrality rules voted down by the Federal Communications Commission in 2017 led many to believe that “fast lane” and “slow lane” internet was likely to surface. The idea is that internet providers could decide to charge companies like Netflix, Amazon or YouTube for better access to their customers. This appears to take that idea and turn it on its head, charging customers to have faster access to play games.
The Associated Press in 2017 reached out to a number of internet providers — including Cox — to see if they were considering paid priority. At the time, Cox said it wasn’t.
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Reached for comment Thursday, a Cox representative reiterated that the company has no plans to pursue “fast lane” internet and noted that this service would not run afoul of any net neutrality rules.
Correction: Variety initially erroneously reported that Cox Elite Gamer Service was a form of “fast lane” service, when it actually doesn’t prioritize internet access. We have updated the story to reflect that and add more context.