updated 06:20 pm EDT, Tue May 24, 2011
Cox axes own cell network, goes back to Sprint
Cox made a quick exit from its self-run cellphone service on Tuesday with plans to shut down the network. The fledgling network was being dropped in favor of its earlier plan, which would sell phones and plans piggybacking on Sprint's CDMA network. Its cutoff was a surprise at it had just launched service a week earlier in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The network had been small and was only available in Hampton Roads in Virginia, Omaha in Nebraska, California's Orange County, and both Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma.
The cable provider has repeatedly tried to get more directly involved in phones as a way of offering a 'quadruple play' where it can give TV, Internet, landlines and cellphones, but it has often backed out just as quickly. It tried a network in the 1990s and tried a deeper tie-in with Sprint several years ago.
Starting a cellular network has been difficult for any newcomer in the modern era. Carriers often need to spend billions, both on setting up cell sites but also on licenses for the frequencies to handle phone calls. The costs have been cited in a Senate hearing on the AT&T proposal to buy T-Mobile since spectrum is both a key incentive for the deal and proof for smaller carriers of how much of an obstacle exists.