Scheduled to begin in the third quarter, the trial calls for the companies to collaborate on developing and implementing Internet services over Cox's cable system in El Dorado, Ark. The agreement includes an option to negotiate a definitive open-access agreement in future, the companies said in a joint statement.
The deal marks the third such broadband agreement that Atlanta-based EarthLink has reached with some of the largest U.S. cable operators in the last six months. In November, EarthLink teamed with what was then Time Warner to share the media giant's high-speed cable network and, in March it agreed to work with Comcast on high-speed cable access trials in Philadelphia.
Growth in the number of customers for high-speed Net access helped stem losses during EarthLink's first quarter, the Internet services company reported Tuesday. That period marked the second quarter in a row that the company topped estimates.
EarthLink and others have benefited from the government's demands that AOL and Time Warner, as a condition of their merger, promise to keep their huge high-speed cable networks open to competitors.
Also based in Atlanta, Cox says it has approximately 6.2 million customers nationwide, making it the fifth-largest cable television company in the country.