Cox Communications and Verizon Wireless launched a co-marketing program in Oklahoma, under which consumers who subscribe to the MSO's triple play and a smartphone or tablet from Verizon Wireless can receive up to $400 -- an arrangement that competitors and critics call anticompetitive.
Under the marketing promotion, new and current Cox and Verizon Wireless customers in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa vicinities who sign up for a bundle of services from both companies may be eligible to receive a Visa prepaid debit card ranging from $100 to $400.
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. In addition, Cox and the wireless carrier said they would sell each other's services in select areas.
That came after Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks -- collectively as SpectrumCo -- announced similar agreements to sell Verizon Wireless their AWS holdings for $3.6 billion and jointly market services.
The MSO-Verizon Wireless deals have not been approved by the Federal Communications Commission or the Department of Justice. However, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have already launched co-marketing initiatives with Verizon Wireless in multiple markets.
Verizon Communications, the majority owner of Verizon Wireless, does not provide wireline services in Oklahoma. Rivals and other critics of the arrangements between Verizon Wireless and the MSOs complain that the deals are anticompetitive. "These agreements simply represent a deal between these companies to stay out of each others' way in perpetuity," Free Press policy analyst Joel Kelsey said in testifying before a Senate subcommittee in March.
In Oklahoma, consumers can sign up for the Cox and Verizon Wireless by visiting Verizon Wireless or Cox Solutions Stores in the Oklahoma City or Tulsa areas.
"We've made it easy to experience the entertainment and communications services of Cox with the country's fastest wireless network of Verizon Wireless," Cox Communications Oklahoma senior vice president and general manager Percy Kirk said in announcing the marketing program. "Consumers can now get the most value and Oklahoma's best entertainment experience from these two great companies."
Before teaming up with Verizon Wireless, Cox had embarked on a strategy to offer its own wireless phones, with voice and data services provided through Sprint Nextel. Last fall, the operator announced it was shutting down that business, ceasing sales in mid-November and ending service in March 2012.
All told, Cox in the last six years 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.