Cox Cuts Staff Amid Wireless Shutdown

Cox Communications Inc. is laying off more than 100 people as it gets ready to shut down its wireless unit, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Friday.

The privately held MSO wouldn't confirm the number, but "it is true that some jobs will be impacted," Cox spokesman Todd Smith told Light Reading Cable via email. "As previously announced, our wireless strategy has changed and we must adjust our workforce to align with our new strategy."

The paper said the layoff will affect engineers, product development managers and infrastructure designers tied to the wireless unit. Cox said Kelly Williams, who succeeded Stephen Bye as head of Cox's wireless unit last April, remains with the company's product strategy group. (See Cox Appoints New VP of Wireless and What's Next for Cox Wireless? )

In November, Cox announced that it would shut down its wireless service, which piggybacks on the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) 3G network, on March 30. Since then, Cox struck a deal to sell its Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless for $315 million, a deal that lets each side sell and bundle the other's services. The other MSOs involved in the deal -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks -- can also sell Verizon Wireless services under their own brands.

Why this matters
It's only 100 people out of possibly 60,000 (the employment count listed in Cox's 2010 annual report). But it's another step toward ending a once-ambitious in-house wireless strategy that included a path toward Long Term Evolution (LTE). And it's another piece of a larger, significant reorg going on at Cox. (See Cox Gets Ready to Reorg.)

There's at least one more wireless chapter ahead. Cox has yet to announce what it intends to do with its 700MHz spectrum holdings.

Headcount update: Cox Communications has more than 21,000 employees. Cox Enterprises, the MSO's parent company, has 60,000-plus.

For more
Catch up on Cox's wireless flirtations and fallout.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:43:31 PM
re: Cox Cuts Staff Amid Wireless Shutdown

It's surprising that Cox's 700 MHz spectrum isn't part of the Verizon deal. Maybe it's not in one of the bands where AT&T and Verizon have the lion's share of the spectrum. The FCC reportedly is considering requiring manufacturers to build handset devices working across the entire 700 MHz band but for now most of the 700 MHz products out there only operate in the AT&T and Verizon bands.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:43:30 PM
re: Cox Cuts Staff Amid Wireless Shutdown

But it makes me wonder who might be a willing buyer if Cox tries to sell it. If Verizon doesn't end up getting it, maybe AT&T will step up since it's been whining about spectrum needs.  Or perhaps Dish will step up and try to expand the holdings it already has?  Just speculating...  others care to spitball some ideas on who might make a good candidate for Cox's 700MHz leftovers?

Sign In