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MSOs Discuss Joint Wireless Venture

Five of North America's largest MSOs are reportedly discussing the creation of a joint venture to offer wireless phone service. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications are talking about a possible alliance to offer cellular and potentially wireless data service to cable customers. The proposed joint venture would either buy out an existing wireless provider or, more likely, resell some other provider's service under a separate brand name. Not surprisingly, the most likely partner for the cable operators would be Sprint Corp., the nation's third biggest cell phone operator. Sprint has already struck deals with Time Warner, Charter and Mediacom Communications to support their rollouts of voice-over-IP (VoIP) service. In addition, Sprint has been trying to sign wholesale wireless pacts with the MSOs. The cable consortium idea makes sense, at least on paper, because it would give the MSOs instant nationwide wireless coverage and lower service costs. But the big MSOs would have to share control of the operation, which has never been easy. Of course, the cable industry has been down the consortium road before, with mixed success at best. In the most humiliating failure to date, several of them struck out a few years ago with @Home Corp., the high-speed data provider, when the company went bankrupt and then abruptly shut down.
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