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Cox Refreshes Wireless Agenda

Jeff Baumgartner

5:59 PM -- Guess what? Cox Communications Inc. still has plans to build out its own wireless broadband network.

Cox president Pat Esser slapped a new coat of paint on the topic this week at an annual tech event in swanky Aspen, Colo., reportedly telling the crowd that the plan is moving forward and the company will plunk down $500 million in wireless spectrum to make it all happen. Cox Wireless Inc., as you'll recall, snapped up 22 licenses in the 700 MHz auctions. (See Cox Waxes Wireless and The Great Cable Spectrum Speculation.)

"I won't divulge too many secrets here, but we'll focus on providing simple calling plans, integrating all our services into one device with a consistent cross-platform interface," he said.

He didn't say when the operator will begin tests or deployments, but we already know there's little chance Cox will be following some of its major MSO brethren and go the way of WiMax now that the "Pivot" experiment is (blessedly) in cable's rear-view mirror. (See Cable Plays Clearwire Card and MSOs Pivoting Away From Sprint JV.)

Cox didn't return a call for further comment, but little birds tell us that the operator will start with a CDMA-based platform in some of its larger markets in 2009 and then migrate to LTE (long term evolution) at a time still TBD. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which is beefing up its U.S. cable profile, is already reported to be among the vendors in Cox's wireless technology wheelhouse. (See Say Wah Way and Huawei Names Cable CTO.)

Esser didn't get into that level of tech detail, but he was confident that Cox's wireless entry will be differentiated enough to help it capture 20 percent of the market, according to the report. "Wireless is straight from our offensive playbook," he said.

Cox is also part of SpectrumCo LLC, but that cable consortium has said next to nothing about what it will do with the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum it won in the fall of 2006. (See SpectrumCo Gets Licenses and Sprint to Exit SpectrumCo Venture .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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