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Regulation

Private Dancer

If you ran a forward-thinking cable business and no longer had to worry about appeasing Wall Street's whims, what moves would you make to best position your company for competition and convergence? The answer from privately held MSO Cox Communications Inc. is to invest in spectrum, both wired and wireless.

Last month, The Bauminator blogged about Cox's plans to upgrade its HFC networks to 1 GHz, providing one-third more capacity for bandwidth-hungry HDTV, VOD, and high-speed data services. (See Cox Makes 1 GHz Moves .)

This week, Cox informed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of its intention to bid in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction. (See Cox Preps 700 MHz Spectrum Bid.)

Cox's bold moves stand in start contrast to publicly traded Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). These MSOs continue to insist they have plenty of HFC capacity and are hoping to allay the fears of spending-averse cable investors by steering clear of the 700 MHz bidding war. (See Comcast, TWC Won't Bid in Wireless Auction .)

In particular, Comcast's decision comes on the heels of its scaled-back growth estimates for the year. (See Sliding Into Wednesday?)

Both Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will be bidding in the 700 MHz auction, angling for a slice of the spectrum Ma Bell calls "beachfront property." (See 700 MHz Deadline Looms.)

Even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has decided to put its money where its mouth is on wireless. (See Google Confirms 700MHz Bid.)

Perhaps the Googlers will move from a whining bid to a winning one. (See Google's Whining Wireless Bid .)

America's top two MSOs will be hoping that the Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) spectrum they won last fall will prove strategically sufficient. If not, perhaps they will simply plug into Google's "open" 700 MHz network and hope their applications aren't degraded.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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