Cox ready to be first cable operator in mobile wireless

Cox Communications, which has been buying up wireless spectrum, including 700 MHz, and following a cagey, information-limited approach to what it's going to do with that spectrum, will apparently launch its own cellular network next year.

According to published reports, Cox, which spent $550 million on the wireless licenses, will build its own network in its cable service area serving about 23 million potential customers in New Orleans, Omaha, Las Vegas, Kansas and Southern New Mexico and use Sprint Nextel for roaming outside those areas. Cox, unlike Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bight House Networks, did not become part of the new Clearwire joint venture which is expected to launch a nationwide mobile WiMAX service early next year. Also unlike those other players, Cox did participate in the FCC's 700 MHz auction.

Not joining the new Clearwire was something of a break for Cox, which had been part of a failed Sprint Nextel joint venture in 2005. Like other cable operators, Cox is not a newcomer to wireless, having built its own cellular network in Southern California and Las Vegas in the early heyday of wireless in the 1990s and, like its fellow cable operators, sold it off to Sprint in 1999.

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