Cox Communications Inc. said today that it will build its own 3G cellular network, test so-called 4G technology Long-Term Evolution (LTE), and strike a new deal with Sprint Nextel Corp. to start offering mobile services next year.
While other U.S. multiple system operators (MSOs) -- Bright House Networks, Comcast Corp., and Time Warner Cable Inc. -- have placed wireless bets on mobile WiMax with a combined investment of $1.7 billion in the proposed joint venture between Clearwire LLC and Sprint's XOHM assets, Cox has come back with its own plans to build a 3G CDMA 2000 network and trial LTE. (See Cable Plays Clearwire Card and Sprint, Clearwire Create $14.5B WiMax Giant.)
Cox has spent roughly $550 million to acquire wireless licenses in the U.S., and today's news reveals what the MSO plans to do with some of it. In the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s 700 MHz auction earlier this year, Cox paid just more than $304 million for 14 Block A and eight Block B licenses. And as part of the SpectrumCo cable consortium, Cox spent $248.3 million to win Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) licenses. (See Cox Preps 700 MHz Spectrum Bid, Cox Waxes Wireless , The Great Cable Spectrum Speculation, and SpectrumCo Gets Licenses .)
To get services off the ground quickly next year, Cox says it will launch services using Sprint's network. At the same time, the operator will construct its own 3G network using its AWS spectrum with equipment reportedly from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
Cox has a history with Sprint. Cox and other MSOs dissolved this year a voice reseller joint venture with Sprint, called Pivot. Cox's new arrangement with Sprint appears to be more to the MSO's liking. (See MSOs Pivoting Away From Sprint JV.)
"Wireless service will be a key driver to Cox's future growth," said Pat Esser, president of Cox Communications in a statement. "We've already invested more than $500 million to acquire wireless spectrum and to develop the infrastructure and human resources needed to architect our own advanced wireless service."
Cox could not be reached for comment as this article was published.
â€” Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung