Report: Cable Operators Staffing Up Wireless Venture

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A joint venture among four cable operators is seeking to hire “telecom industry experts,” in what may be a prelude to cable developing its own mobile-phone service, according to a report Wednesday by the Associated Press.

The companies -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications -- are looking to recruit people to run “wireless business strategy and manage a portfolio of handsets,” the AP reported, citing an anonymous source.

Those four operators own SpectrumCo, a joint venture that acquired Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for $2.4 billion in a Federal Communications Commission auction last year. They have not indicated what they plan to do with that spectrum.

The four MSOs also formed a joint venture with Sprint Nextel to offer a mobile phone service branded Pivot, which both Sprint and cable executives have acknowledged has been slow to get deployed commercially. Earlier this month, Sprint said it will stop rolling out Pivot to additional markets in order to focus on simplifying the provisioning process in existing areas.

The AP’s report said disappointment with Pivot may be pushing the cable companies “to go at it themselves,” although the article also noted “it isn't clear whether cable operators plan to build their own wireless network, or even if they have settled on another way to offer wireless services.”

Time Warner Cable and Comcast told the wire service that they are continuing to focus on Pivot, while Cox declined to comment.

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