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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 27, 2008

Cox Communications to Launch Its Own Wireless Service

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor

Cox (News - Alert), a cable company, is in the works to have its own cellular network up and running by next year, adding more cable competition with phone companies. The company expressed an interested by spending $550 million on licenses to use the airwaves; however, no detailed plans have been demonstrated.
The Atlanta-based company plans to build its own network in its cable service area and partner with Sprint (News - Alert) Nextel Corp. for roaming outside those areas. Cox currently covers areas around Atlanta, New Orleans, San Diego, Omaha, Neb., and Las Vegas as well as much of Kansas and southern New Mexico. Those areas have about 23 million subscribers, said Stephen Bye, Cox's vice president of wireless.
This wouldn’t be the first partnership between Cox and Sprint. In the 1990’s Cox built and operated a cellular network covering Southern California and Las Vegas in the 1990s, but then sold it to Sprint in 1999. Cox partnered again with Sprint in 2005 to market wireless service to their video customers, but the project was abandoned this year.
Bye said the latest project with Sprint taught Cox that it was important to provide a consistent experience for customers, and that the best way to do that was to keep control under one roof rather than share it in a joint venture.
Forrester (News - Alert) Research analyst Charles Golvin said Cox probably did the right thing to get out of wireless in the '90s to focus on upgrading its cable network with optical fiber that carries broadband and wired phone service.
Cox will be selling phones under its own brand. Bye had no details on what handsets would be available, or what they would cost. Nor would he say which business model the company will use.
According to the Associated Press, national carriers like Sprint subsidize their phones and recoup the money through minute-based plans. Smaller, regional CDMA carriers Leap Wireless International (News - Alert) Inc. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. don't subsidize their phones, and sell cheaper, unlimited-calling plans without contracts.
Cox Communications also announced today that they plan to launch a next-generation bundle with wireless by 2009.

Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek