At last, Cox leads way for cable entering mobile wireless space

Cox Communications has spent the last seven or eight months putting its mobile wireless play on track--having announced the service in the spring and then providing occasional "imminent" updates along the way. Now, finally (at least for some industry watchers) the MSO is moving forward by starting mobile phone service in three markets: Orange County, Calif., Omaha, Neb., and Hampton Roads, Va.

The service makes Cox the first MSO into the mobile wireless space--others in the industry are either ignoring mobile wireless or working on semi-mobile plays with WiMAX provider Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) and 3G partner Sprint (NYSE: S). While it will also use Sprint's 3G network for wireless, Cox is differentiating itself by building its own network using its own wireless spectrum.

Getting people to sign on with a new wireless provider is a daunting challenge, admitted Stephen Bye, Cox's wireless vice president, but the MSO's product bundle will make it easier.

"We recognize that we have some very formidable competitors in this space (but) customers will be attracted to our service because they'll get more value out of our bundled offering than they will with alterative providers," Bye said.

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