Cox To Stop Building Its Own 3G Wireless Networks

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Cox Communications will decommission the 3G wireless networks it was building in a few markets, deciding instead to focus on rolling out wireless voice and data service via its wholesale agreement with Sprint Nextel.

Cox never put its own 3G CDMA networks into service. The privately held MSO had been building towers and deploying base stations in no more than two of its nine major regional clusters, although Cox declined to provide a specific number. The operator plans to offer wireless in more than 50% of its footprint by the end of this year.

"We will soon begin to decommission our 3G network to better focus on making Cox Wireless available to more than 50% of our footprint this year," Cox said in a statement. "We believe this approach is good for our customers, allowing us to take the necessary steps to fulfill our promise to deliver a Cox experience that customers expect from us. In continuing with our successful wholesale model for 3G wireless services, we will accomplish speed to market while achieving greater operational efficiencies from a wholesale model that continues to improve."

Cox has spent more than $550 million on spectrum licenses in recent years, spending $304.6 million for 700-MHz licenses in the FCC's digital TV spectrum auction in 2008 as well as $248.3 million for Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) licenses.

Using Sprint's network, Cox has launched 3G wireless voice and data in markets including Hampton Roads, Va., Omaha, Neb., Orange County, Calif., Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okla., Rhode Island, Cleveland, Ohio, and its service area in Connecticut.

The operator has not disclosed the number of wireless subscribers, but said, "We are proud of our initial success with wireless, already nearly doubling our projected subscriber forecast."

Cox in 2009 tested voice calling and HD video streaming over wireless networks in Phoenix and San Diego using fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. With the decision to cease the 3G network buildout, the cable operator is currently working on strategic options for 4G and LTE.

In March 2011, Cox promoted Kelly Williams, previously head of the operator's project management organization, to vice present of wireless product and operations. He takes over for Stephen Bye, formerly Cox's vice president of wireless, who left the cable company earlier this year to join Sprint Nextel as vice president of technology.

Previously, Cox had signed a deal with Berliner Communications Inc., a services provider to the wireless communications industry, to assist with the design and construction of Cox's 3G wireless network.

In addition, Cox had selected Huawei Technologies for CDMA base stations that are "LTE-ready," as well as Starent Networks' multimedia core networking platform.

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