Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

Cox VP says that reports that it will sell its wireless spectrum are inaccurate, as the MSO is exploring all its options for LTE

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

June 16, 2011

2 Min Read
Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

CHICAGO -- The Cable Show -- Cox Communications Inc. has no plans to sell its valuable 700MHz and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum leftover from its canned 3G wireless network buildout, Cox's wireless head told The Cable Show attendees Thursday. (See Cox Chucks Wireless Network Plan.)

This runs counter to what Cox President Pat Esser reportedly told Bloomberg, but Kelly Williams, Cox's VP of wireless product operations, said the report that Cox would sell the network to a Tier 1 carrier or shut it down was based on a misunderstanding. (See Cox May Tear Down Wireless Network.)

"While we do not intend to build a 3G network, we have all the options on the table relative to 4G," Williams said. "We have not ruled anything out."

As of March, Cox discontinued its 3G network buildout plans to instead solely resell Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) 3G CDMA wireless service. Williams believes this will suffice for 3G, but recognizes that the MSO needs to move fast on a 4G strategy. He said Cox is still exploring its options, including spectrum hosting or a joint Long Term Evolution (LTE) build with another operator. (See Speculating About Cox's Spectrum.)

"The flexibility of owning spectrum is very significant," he said. "We don’t have anything nailed down at this point."

Cox is also very open to partnering with any major wireless operator in the U.S., Williams added. What it learned from its limited 3G network buildout was that the economics around doing it from scratch are challenging and time to market is a huge concern. 4G came faster than Cox expected, Williams said, and building out 3G also took a lot longer than the cable company anticipated.

"Be thoughtful -- it's not cheap, it's not easy and it takes a long time," Williams said, offering advice for other companies like LightSquared and Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) that are building wireless from the ground up.

As Cox mulls its 4G strategy, Williams said it will also pursue Wi-Fi as a strategy for offload and cost savings, since it pays Sprint per megabyte. The MSO is currently testing a Wi-Fi offload approach in which it equips customers with a access gateway for Wi-Fi offload in the home.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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