Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum
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