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Seeking Cell Sites

If there's one large cable operator that knows about the cellular backhaul business, it's Cox Communications Inc.

While many big MSOs talk about making a splash in the budding cell backhaul market, Cox has been quietly doing so for several years. In fact, Cox is now serving multiple wireless providers in a number of its southern and southwestern markets, including New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okla., and Pensacola, Fla. And the nation's fourth largest MSO claims that it has already captured more than 65 percent of the backhaul traffic generated by Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s AT&T Wireless division, Verizon Wireless , Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT), and other mobile carriers in the two Oklahoma cities.

Cox executives credit their success to a strong emphasis on the booming cell backhaul business and a multi-pronged approach that includes coax, fiber, and wireless technologies. Although the MSO certainly builds fiber plant extensions when it must, it also uses its HFC infrastructure to deliver backhaul traffic over coax lines. At the same time, it's now developing wireless-based backhaul solutions to use when neither fiber nor coax make the most sense.

Andrew Redman, a senior network engineer for Cox, has been spreading the Cox gospel throughout the land. Speaking most recently at Light Reading's The Future of Cable Business Services event in New York two weeks ago, Redman urged his fellow cable engineers to pursue a similar multi-connection strategy.

"It's not coax versus fiber or vice versa," said Redman, a self-professed fiber fan who likes to talk about "kicking the heinies" of the telcos. "They're just two tools in the toolkit."

— Alan Breznick, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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