Cox rolls out initial wireless test markets

Cox Communications has started trialing its wireless offering in three markets as part of a prelude to a larger wireless expansion scheduled for next year. The initial test markets are in Hampton Roads, Va., Omaha, Neb., and Orange County, Calif.

The cable company--which paid $304.6 million for 22 spectrum licenses covering areas in California, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and elsewhere as part of last year's 700 MHz spectrum auction--is leveraging Sprint Nextel's CDMA EV-DO network for these initial markets, Cox spokeswoman Jill Ullman told FierceWireless. She said the move allowed the company to get to market faster.

Cox chose to launch in the three markets for a variety of factors, she said, including the size of the markets, time-to-market requirements and customer demand.

The company has not announced any details about pricing, plans or handset partners, and will not do so until it makes a general launch sometime in 2010. Ullman declined to provide a specific timeframe for the wider launch. Cox previously announced it selected Huawei and Starent Networks as two key vendors for its wireless network buildout.

Cox's wireless strategy has stood apart from that of other cable companies. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are reselling mobile WiMAX service under an agreement with Clearwire. However, it appears, at least for now, that Cox has something in common with its cable rivals: a relationship with Sprint, which is the majority owner of Clearwire.

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