Cox is the latest cable company getting interested in "developing the emerging small cell opportunity with wireless providers," according to a recently posted job ad.
Cox Communications Inc. has been advertising for a senior carrier wireless sales support manager in Atlanta, Ga., who will serve as "the small cell subject matter expert for the carrier organization." The manager would be responsible for assessing small cell business opportunities and partners for the cable operator.
Small cells are tiny basestations that are supposed to serve as a complement to the macro network, extending the speed and range of 3G and -- eventually -- 4G services. Much of the early action in the market has involved 2G and 3G home basestations (femtocells) but is expected to extend to picocells and metrocells that can serve public access needs indoors and outdoors over the next few years.
The ad doesn't go into great detail about what small cell opportunities people at Cox are considering yet. Other cable operators, however, have been more forthcoming about the prospects of working with wireless carriers on deploying these tiny basestations. (See Backhauling Small Cells.)
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is testing small cells, and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) wants to sell small cells as a service. The concept behind this is that the cable operator would deploy and manage the small cells for the wireless operator. (See TWC Uncaps CCAP With Casa & Arris and TW Cable Eyes Small Cells Too.)
Such concepts could take a while to come to market -- if, in fact, they ever do -- as Time Warner Cable has previously said that it hasn't sorted out all aspects of the business model with potential wireless partners: issues like who owns the small cell and where the cable operator will get the spectrum to use to deploy the radio. (See Small Cells: The Battle for the Lamp Post.)
The market, particularly for public access small cells, is requiring a much longer runway to take off than many had previously predicted. Heavy Reading predicts that 700,000 public access small cells requiring new backhaul will be in live service by the end of 2017. (See How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading