Light Reading
Cox's long-term mobile future appears to be in flux amid word that its wireless chief, Stephen Bye, is heading to Sprint

What's Next for Cox Wireless?

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/1/2011
50%
50%

Will Cox Communications Inc. suck it up and remain in the wireless business for the long haul? Will the MSO cut its losses and sell off its valuable wireless spectrum to a capacity-starved carrier? Or, will Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) step in and simply buy the nation's third-largest incumbent MSO, giving it a coveted wireline broadband, video and cell backhaul play?

Cox insists that wireless remains crucial to its overall strategy, but those are just some of the questions and speculation swirling about amid word that Stephen Bye, Cox's VP of wireless, has left the company and is about to join Sprint, one of the MSO's key wireless partners.

Bye, a Sprint spokeswoman confirmed via e-mail, is joining Sprint on March 14 as vice president–technology development.

While the new Sprint gig offers a fresh opportunity for Bye, the move would seemingly come at a less-than-opportune time for Cox. The MSO, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its wireless bet so far, is just starting to get its mobile voice and data services off the ground following a seven-month delay. It's currently available in Hampton Roads, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; and Orange County, Calif., with Oklahoma City and Tulsa on deck. A recent local report indicates that Cox may turn up wireless in San Diego by mid-2011 or 2012. (See Cox to Flip Wireless Switch in Oklahoma and Cox Wireless Is Go for Launch.)

Cox is already moving to fill the wireless leadership vacuum left by Bye, telling Light Reading Cable that Len Barlik, Cox's EVP of product development and management (who is late of Sprint), is taking over Bye's duties on an interim basis as the company seeks a permanent replacement. (See Sprint Exec Joins Cox.)

"We appreciate Stephen's contributions to the successful launch of our wireless business," a Cox official says in an e-mailed response to questions. "We are thankful for the dedication and operational excellence of our wireless team as we deliver on our commitment to launching additional markets and enhancing the Cox customer experience."

An industry source familiar with the situation at Cox tells a slightly different story, noting that several Cox Wireless employees are currently searching for jobs amid fears that the MSO is contemplating the long-term future of its wireless business and whether it will invest in additional markets.

"The writing on the wall is to get out before you are forced out," the source said.

The MSO, however, says the plan remains the same. "Cox certainly remains committed to launching additional wireless markets," a spokesman adds, referencing the upcoming Oklahoma launch and that "we'll have more news to share about future market launches soon."

By U.S. cable standards, Cox's wireless plan is the most ambitious. It's starting off by leasing access on Sprint's 3G network, but it's also building its own wireless network, with plans to tap into the 700MHz and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum it won at auction and eventually migrate to Long Term Evolution (LTE). (See Cox Wireless: Soup to Nuts .)

Cox says it has reached "several milestones" regarding its wireless network build, but has yet to say when it intends to activate it for wireless service.

Exec moves and Sprint-Cox connections
Bye's departure follows other big changes at the top of Cox. The MSO confirmed that SVP of Program Management Mimi Thigpen is no longer with the company, but did not elaborate on the reason, though a source said her departure partly stems from Cox's frustration with the pace of its wireless strategy. Last month, former Cox EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Dallas Clement left to become CFO of AutoTrader, which is majority-owned by Cox Enterprises. (See Cox Cable Exec Heads to AutoTrader.com.)

Among other big moves, Cox CTO Scott Hatfield resigned last year due to "personal reasons." Cox is still seeking a full-time replacement for him, but Don Hallacy, yet another former Sprint exec, is currently serving as interim CTO. Cox CFO Mark Bowser also hails from Sprint. (See Cox CTO Resigns , Cox Hires Interim CTO and Sprint Exec Joins Cox.)

All of this cross-pollination between companies is causing some in the industry to speculate if they'll just tie the knot, with Sprint playing the buyer.

In the meantime, Sprint's interest in cable continues on and the value it places on wired connectivity is becoming increasingly apparent. Another industry source says Sprint has recently issued a request for information (RFI) for cell backhaul, and Cox, Charter Communications Inc. , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are among the major MSOs that have responded.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
JeffMoore99
50%
50%
JeffMoore99,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:11:25 PM
re: What's Next for Cox Wireless?


Coffeebydesign, you need to keep up with the news.  Sprint did get poor customer service ratings for a couple of years, but the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports had Sprint in a virtual tie with Verizon for having the BEST customer service.  Consumer Reports also indicated that AT&T had the worst customer service by a large margin.  AT&T has come in last for the past two years.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:11:25 PM
re: What's Next for Cox Wireless?


Couple of things to clarify:  Mimi Thigpen was promoted to SVP of Strategy in 2008, but she was serving as SVP of Program Management when she departed the company. Also, Phil Meeks didn't hail from Sprint, but was a 20-year MCI vet before joining Cox.  Those changes are reflected in the story. JB




Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:11:25 PM
re: What's Next for Cox Wireless?


Thanks, good to hear from someone who signed up for Cox wireless. it's my understanding that Cox is handling pretty much all the customer-facing functions for the wireless service, so what's been your experience with it so far and how has that matched up with your prior experience with VZ?  JB

coffeebydesign
50%
50%
coffeebydesign,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:11:25 PM
re: What's Next for Cox Wireless?


I joined Cox Communications Wireless service, and the one concern I had, that would have prevented me from joining their service was whether or not Cox Communications Wireless would be handling customer service, or whetherS Sprint would be handling customer service, considering the Cox network utilizes the Sprint towers. I think its a rather well known fact that Sprint has by far, the worst customer service in the industry, and should they take over those duties, I will be paying the early cancellation fee and switching back to Verizon. I like the services that Cox offers, and that the services are bundled with my television and internet, and the wireless plans were comparably, if not better priced, so I chose to leave Verizon after 10 years of service with them. While I think Verizon has always had stellar customer service, Cox communications has always outshined them in my opinion, and there aren't any other companies that I would have left Verizon for. That is my two cents, and if I ever look in the sky and see nothing but black clouds, I'll know that Sprint has taken over Cox, and it'll be time to cancel service.

Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (5) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed