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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

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:35 PM
re: Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

So, already working with Sprint, has spectrum, has cash...


 


Anyone wondering if Comcast will rent spectrum to Sprint and piggy-back an MVNO LTE service on the multi-modal network that's coming, oh, sometime soon.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:34 PM
re: Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

So, already working with Sprint, has spectrum, has cash...


 


Anyone wondering if Comcast will rent spectrum to Sprint and piggy-back an MVNO LTE service on the multi-modal network that's coming, oh, sometime soon.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:01:33 PM
re: Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

In our interview, Williams mentioned spectrum hosting as a potential route several times. It makes a lot of sense given their relationship to Sprint, and Sprint's inevitable move to LTE.

bergea 12/5/2012 | 5:00:59 PM
re: Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum

Now that Cox has discontinued its 3G network buildout plans to resell Sprint’s 3G CDMA mobile services, a spectrum hosting deal with Sprint may be the best way to advance its 4G strategy and recoup its $550 million investment in AWS and 700MHz spectrum.  The question is whether to strike a deal directly with Sprint or negotiate with LightSquared or Clearwire.  As a leading cableco, both AT&T and Verizon are natural enemies for Cox, but other potential LTE partners include Leap or Metro PCS.  Cox should cosnider investing in Wi-Fi for 3G offload and may also want to divest its existing wireless network infrastructure and customer service centers,  Huawei will have a strong interest in the future owner of the "LTE-ready" SingleRAN base stations deployed by Cox as it tries to expand its presence in the US market.   

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