Cox debuts Cox Mobile with 4G, 5G service

Cox Communications has been working on getting a mobile offering launched for a few years, and today is the day.

The company announced the pilot launch of Cox Mobile, its new mobile phone service, in three of its markets. The service is exclusively available to Cox home internet customers who are eligible residents in Hampton Roads, Virginia; Omaha, Nebraska; and Las Vegas.

The company plans to continue to launch Cox Mobile in its remaining markets on a rolling basis throughout the rest of the year. The private broadband company serves nearly seven million homes and businesses across 18 states.

Cox Mobile is kicking off with two unlimited talk and text plans — Pay As You Gig and Gig Unlimited. With Pay As You Gig, customers only pay for the data they need instead of paying for a one-size-fits-all plan. Cox Mobile customers will have access to 4G LTE and 5G coverage, as well as 4 million Cox Wi-Fi hotspots.

The reason Cox is late to the game in becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is because it has been involved in litigation with T-Mobile.

Cox was very close to launching a mobile business in October 2021 based on an MVNO agreement with Verizon. But T-Mobile sued, saying Cox was obligated to pursue an MVNO agreement with T-Mobile based on its history with Sprint.

In March, the Supreme Court of Delaware gave a win to Cox, seeming to free it from its obligations to T-Mobile.

However, when asked today which underlying network Cox Mobile would run on, a Cox spokesperson would say only, “Contractual obligations limit the extent we can discuss our MNO partner.”

Comcast and Charter

Cox is following in the footsteps of its cable peers Comcast and Charter, which are both already acting as MVNOs. Both Comcast and Charter use Verizon’s underlying wireless network via wholesale agreements.

They also offer their mobile services only to their existing broadband subscribers. And Cox is copying Xfinity Wireless and Spectrum Mobile in terms of offering a by-the-gig plan and an unlimited plan.

Altice also provides an MVNO service, which it’s currently rebranding as Optimum Mobile. That service rides on T-Mobile’s network.

Comcast, Charter and Altice USA collectively snagged 694,000 mobile subscribers in the second quarter 2022, a 26.2% jump from the 550,000 net adds the cable operators added in Q2 2021. The three cable operators ended the quarter with approximately 9.2 million mobile subscribers.

Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts has bragged that the company’s investments in wireless are “capital-light.”

Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore said today, “Wave7 Research has been writing that the cablecos, taken collectively, are the fourth competitor in the U.S. wireless market.  Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile are that fourth competitor in roughly two-thirds of the U.S., while Cox is the top cable company in the remaining third of the country. This is a very positive development for wireless competition.”