Cox, Huawei Make Wireless Connection
Confirming a rumor that first bubbled up about a year ago, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has won a deal to supply gear that will be key to Cox Communications Inc. 's ambitious wireless network rollout, which will start off using CDMA, but eventually will add proto-4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) to the technology mix. (See Cox Picks Huawei for CDMA.)
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Cox, the third-largest U.S. MSO, will launch its 3G network using Huawei's "LTE-ready" SingleRAN system and the Chinese giant's 3900 base stations. Huawei's got its foot firmly in the door, but it won't be Cox's only wireless network partner.
"Our long-term build-out plan does not include an exclusive vendor agreement for the infrastructure equipment," a Cox spokeswoman confirmed via email.
Cox hasn't announced any other wireless equipment partners, but could potentially be looking at a long list of partners -- including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , or Samsung Corp. -- if the plan is to eventually move to an LTE network. Alcatel and Ericsson recently won to supply Verizon Wireless 's LTE network, which is slated for initial commercial launches in 2010. (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.)
Cox has not announced precisely when or where it will introduce wireless services, but the MSO does have a 3G-to-4G migration in mind and expects to add mobile components to its full suite of voice, video, and data services. Although Cox has expressed interest in conducting some LTE trials this year, the initial service will be based on 3G. The MSO has not revealed how much of its 3G network will be homegrown and how much will be coming by way of a new partnership with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). (See Cox Wireless: Soup to Nuts and Cox Preps Cellular Network, Eyes LTE.)
In the meantime, Cox continues to trickle out news of vendor deals, construction partnerships, and new hires to its internal wireless organization. Last week, for example, Cox announced the hiring of BCI Communications Inc. (OTC: BERL) to help with cell site acquisition, design, and construction. (See BCI Gets Busy With Cox's 3G Buildout .)
Huawei gains cable ground
The deal with Cox gives Huawei its first big cable foothold in the U.S., and comes just in front of The Cable Show, which kicks off Wednesday in Washington.
Huawei could factor into cable's mobile WiMax plans, as well, if the vendor ends up winning a predicted mobile WiMax contract with Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), which counts Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Bright House Networks as its cable MSO partners. (See Huawei's Clearwire Ride?, Cable Plays Clearwire Card, and Comcast WiMaxes Portland.)
Huawei has quietly built up a domestic cable strategy. In addition to its wireless ambitions, the vendor is said to be poking around a digital cable set-top strategy, possibly starting off with simple, entry-level devices such as the Digital Terminal Adapters (DTAs) Comcast is using to fuel "Project Cavalry," the MSO's all-digital initiative. (See Huawei Sniffing at Set-Top Strategy and Comcast Sends In the All-Digital 'Cavalry'.)
To help push its U.S. cable strategy forward, Huawei has hired Christopher Skarica as chief technology officer of its North American cable MSO team. Skarica, who joined Huawei last August, is late of cable suppliers such as Motorola, Lindsay Broadband Inc. , and Nortel Networks Ltd. . (See Say Wah Way and Huawei Names Cable CTO.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News