Cable must have a wireless future, execs say

CHICAGO - Cable executives speaking at a last-day Cable Show panel session, "Mixed Media Cable: Wireless and the Evolution of a New Broadband Business" offered up an answer to a burning question that had not been previously drenched during the gathering. Yes, cable has a wireless future.

"It's table stakes; we have to have a mobility solution," said Kelly Williams, vice president of wireless product operations for Cox Communications.

Cox recently abandoned its 3G buildout, opting to be a Sprint MVNO, but hasn't decided what it will do about 4G. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is a Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) partner and "I don't think we know what the end game is today," said Robert Cerbone, the MSO's vice president of mobile products. "We're in the market of determining how we sell this wireless from a wireline perspective."

Cablevision Systems' (NYSE: CVC) future is less clear once it moves beyond the massive WiFi effort the MSO is undertaking in its New York metro footprint.

"We have many options," said Kevin Curran, senior vice president of wireless product development. "Our focus is on extending the DOCSIS 3.0 plant. We'll get to (potential) partnerships (with incumbent mobile carriers or new players like LightSquared) after that."

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