Scrambling to jump into the wireless convergence market quickly through their new joint venture, four large MSOs and Sprint Nextel are looking to launch mobile service in up to seven pilot markets sometime later this year.
Speaking on a National Show panel in Atlanta earlier today, Sprint Nextel and cable executives said they plan to introduce service in Austin, Tex., Raleigh, N.C. and Portland, Ore., plus four other, undisclosed markets, over the next few months. If all goes as they hope, the list of seven markets will include two apiece from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, as well as one from Advance/Newhouse Communications.
The four cable and Sprint Nextel officials said the still unnamed joint venture will start with simpler converged services that can be mixed and matched today, such as integrated voice mail and email, video email and free calling between cell phones and home VoIP phones. Then the mobile venture will gradually ramp up to more complex services, like seamless shifting between VoIP and wireless networks with one integratged handset.
"We will soon start moving toward a release mindset," said Thomas Nagel, senior vice president of wireless services for Comcast Cable Communications. In a novel development for the cable industry, he predicted that there would be "a new release every few months."