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Cable Operator Cox To Compete In Cellular

Atlanta — Cellular retailers will have a new competitor next year when cable operator Cox Communications launches its own brand of cellular service to complement its mix of digital cable, broadband and Internet phone services.

“Wireless service will be a key driver to Cox’ future growth,” said Cox president Pat Esser. The company plans to offer service bundles and multiplatform delivery of content to cellphones, he continued. Cox subscribers will be able to use a cellphone to access favorite television programs, program a DVR remotely, access content on a home computer and enjoy “enhanced voice features,” the company continued.

The company, Esser said, will “deliver the entertainment and communications services our customers want, whenever, however and wherever they want them.”

“To deliver the best customer experience,” he continued, “we will manage everyaspect of the service, from product development to marketing and sales to back-office operations and customer support and billing.” The company didn’t outline its distribution plans in any detail, but a spokesperson said, the company “will certainly leverage our existing [Cox-owned] retail locations.”

Cox operates cable systems in 29 markets and is the industry’s third largest cable operator by residential and commercial subscribers, which number more than 6.2 million. The markets include Rhode Island; Connecticut; Virginia; Chicago; Georgia; Florida; Louisiana; Omaha, Neb.; Kansas; Tulsa, Okla.; Oklahoma City; Idaho; Phoenix; and Tucson, Ariz. In California, Cox’s markets are Santa Barbara, Palos Verdes, Orange County and San Diego.

At first, Cox will enter the market by reselling airtime within its cable footprint from Sprint’s CDMA 1x EV-Do Rev. A network, but the cable operator is building its own 3G wireless network using spectrum that it acquired in its footprint for additional 2009 market launches, the company said. The company owns 700MHz and 1.7/2.1GHz spectrum.

Cox will also test 4G LTE (long-term evolution) technology. The company spent more than $500 million to buy the spectrum and “develop the infrastructure and human resources needed to architect our own advanced wireless service,” Esser said.

The company didn’t offer more details on its rollout time frame.