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Cable Tech

Cox firms up mobile prices, expands coverage and preps 5G network

Cox Communications, America's third-largest cable company, recently expanded its mobile coverage area beyond three initial test markets. The company told Light Reading it will continue launching in remaining markets "on a rolling basis throughout the rest of the year."

Cox Mobile launched in August in Hampton Roads, Virginia; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Omaha, Nebraska. Earlier this week, the company expanded service across Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, Central Florida, Middle Georgia and Northern Virginia. The mobile service is only available to Cox's Internet customers.

Cox also finally unveiled its two mobile service pricing options. Both plans include unlimited talking and texting, but customers must pick data for either $15 per month for every 1GB consumed or unlimited data for $45 per month. The company said that pricing applies to each line of service, indicating it has not released family plans like its bigger cable peers.

Cox's mobile pricing is as expected and costs about the same as Charter Communications' and Comcast's mobile services. Those two companies have been offering mobile services for several years, and combined they count almost 10 million mobile customers.

The mobile services from Comcast and Charter run over Verizon's wireless network, and Cox's likely do as well, although Cox officials did not respond to questions on that topic. They noted only that Cox Mobile "runs on the network with unbeatable 5G reliability."

(Source: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Stock Photo)
(Source: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Stock Photo)

Light Reading first reported on Cox's interest in mobile in 2020. The company inked a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with Verizon in January 2021 and planned to launch commercial mobile services by October of 2021.

That plan was scuttled by T-Mobile, which argued that a prior agreement between Cox and Sprint (acquired by T-Mobile in 2020) essentially required Cox to use T-Mobile's network for its mobile service. But a Delaware Supreme Court ruling in March 2022 vacated the injunction against Cox's mobile launch, paving the way for Cox to launch its mobile services in August.

Hiring for 5G

It seems, however, that Cox's MVNO agreement may not be enough. Recent job postings by the company indicate it's preparing to build a 5G network.

"Cox Communications is on the lookout for a Senior Wireless RAN Engineer to aid our Wireless Engineering Technology team in the deployment of our state-of-the-art 5G NR networks," the posting reads.

In a LinkedIn post, Cox's VP of wireless engineering, GS Sickand, wrote that the cable company is planning a "truly differentiated 5G wireless network leveraging the next generation cloud native architecture and end to end orchestration!!"

Cox hired Sickand late last year. He is a wireless veteran with leadership roles at companies such as Ericsson, Nortel and Mavenir.

Cox did not answer Light Reading's questions about its 5G network ambitions. But it is not surprising that the company would want to build one.

Like Charter and Comcast, Cox purchased 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum across its cable footprint. Both Comcast and Charter have said they plan to use that spectrum to build small-scale 5G networks in select locations in order to reduce the amount they pay to Verizon for access to its mobile network. Indeed, Comcast recently named Samsung as its 5G radio vendor.

Finally, it's worth noting that Cox has a lengthy history in the wireless industry. The company built its own 3G CDMA wireless network using 700MHz spectrum and Huawei equipment in 2010. It also sold mobile services through a Sprint MVNO during that period. However, it shuttered the business in 2012.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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