Cox To Cut 100 Jobs After Wireless Unit Shutdown: Report


Cox Communications will lay off more than 100 employees when the cable operator finally winds down its wireless operations next month, according to a report Friday by Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Cox director of media relations Todd Smith confirmed that some jobs will be "impacted," but he declined to confirm a number.

"As previously announced, our wireless strategy has changed and we must adjust our workforce to align with our new strategy," Smith said. "Our employees have done everything we have asked and for that we are thankful. We are extremely focused on making this transition as easy as possible on our employees."

Last fall, Cox announced it would shut down the wireless business, ceasing sales in mid-November. The MSO has continued to provide service for its wireless customers, via a wholesale deal with Sprint Nextel, but that will end March 30, 2012. Cox said it was exiting the business because it lacked national scale and access to "iconic wireless devices" to be compete, and also cited growing competition from faster 4G networks.

Separately, Cox in December reached an agreement with Verizon Wireless to sell its 20-MHz Advanced Wireless Services spectrum licenses covering 28 million people in the U.S. for $315 million. All told, Cox in the last five years has spent more than $550 million on spectrum licenses, paying $304.6 million for 700-MHz licenses in the FCC's digital TV spectrum auction in 2008 and $248.3 million for the AWS licenses in 2006.

That came after Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks also struck deals to sell AWS licenses to the wireless carrier. Under that partnerships, the MSOs and Verizon Wireless have agreed to resell each other's products. Comcast and Verizon Wireless have already initiated co-marketing programs in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

The Verizon Wireless/MSO deals are subject to approval by the FCC and Department of Justice, and the Senate is planning to hold hearings on the proposed transactions.

Cox announced an ambitious plan in the fall of 2008 to deliver its own 3G, and to build its own wireless network in certain markets. In May 2011, Cox scrapped plans to build its own towers, announcing that it would instead rely solely on Sprint's 3G network.

Cox had launched wireless service in less than 50% of its footprint, including in: Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Northern Virginia; Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Omaha, Nebraska; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; and Rhode Island and Cox communities in Connecticut and Cleveland, Ohio.

The company previously said it will make special offers available to Cox Wireless customers to shift to another wireless provider.