Cox to expand wireless to 50% of footprint by year-end

Cox Communications is expanding its wireless service to Oklahoma, and plans to soon launch service in areas in New England as well as in Cleveland. The MSO said it plans to launch wireless service across 50 percent of its cable footprint by year-end.

Cox said its wireless service is now available in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., its fourth and fifth wireless market launches. Cox currently offers service in Hampton Roads, Va., Omaha, Neb. and Orange County, Calif. Although the MSO did not give a timeframe, it said it will soon launch wireless service in Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut as well as in Cleveland.

Len Barlik, Cox's executive vice president of product development and management, is leading Cox's wireless efforts on an interim basis. The company is searching for a replacement for Stephen Bye, who left earlier this month to become Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) vice president of technology development.

Currently, Cox's wireless service rides on Sprint's CDMA network. Cox has deployed its own network infrastructure but has steadfastly refused to say when it will launch service on its own network, arguing that its current strategy allows it to get markets up and running faster. Cox, which is privately held, has not released any customer metrics for its wireless business, but has said that it is primarily targeted at existing Cox customers.

The company also made a slight refresh to its device portfolio by adding two new LG feature phones and retiring some older feature phones. Cox spokeswoman Jill Ullman said the company will continue to refresh its device lineup.

The MSO's key differentiator in wireless is "MoneyBack Minutes," which gives customers a 5-cent credit per each unused voice minute, up to $20 per month. The money appears as a credit on subscribers' bills. Cox's wireless service plans run from $40 per month for 450 minutes to $100 per month for unlimited talking, texting and Web access. The carrier offers a range of handsets, including Android-powered smartphones.

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