With the latest news that Cox is abandoning their own wireless network plans, one has to wonder if wireless and cable just weren’t meant to be. When you add Cox’s latest news to the previous failed cable industry wireless initiative, Pivot, and the slow moving WiMAX efforts of Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC), you see a pretty underwhelming cable wireless effort.
Cox isn’t revealing much about their latest wireless move, other than to say they are “decommissioning” their 3G wireless network. Instead of operating their own 3G wireless network , they will continue to resell Sprint wireless as a MVNO. Cox was in the middle of a network build out, using Huawei as their lead vendor. They have launched several markets as an MVNO using Sprint’s network, and the original plan was to augment their MVNO efforts with their own wireless network for a nationwide 3G, and an eventual Cox 4G network. So much for that grand plan.
The other major cable wireless effort involves Comcast and TWC offering 4G service through a partnership with Clearwire. Both have launched several markets with their own branded 4G service – High Speed 2Go for Comcast and Road Runner Mobile for TWC. But given all the ongoing drama surrounding Clearwire and rumors that they will eventually migrate to LTE, who knows what the future of those services will look like.
These cable wireless mis-steps have to make AT&T and Verizon smile. Their wireless dominance doesn’t look to be in any danger. Cable is performing well against their telco competitors on wireline broadband. But mobile broadband is what gets everyone excited for the future and it appears as if cable will be sitting on the sidelines.
Unless of course, they as a collective decide to ultimately buy their current long term partner, Sprint. With the looming AT&T – T-Mobile deal in play, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has testified himself that Sprint will probably be acquired if that deal is ultimately approved. Perhaps the cable industry will finally decide the going it alone wireless strategy is just not working and see their only real play in the fast evolving mobile broadband space is to acquire Sprint.
Cox now has a bunch of spectrum they could contribute to the deal. Comcast and other cable companies are sitting on a bunch of AWS spectrum as well. Combine that with the divested markets that are certain to come from any AT&T-T-Mobile approval, and maybe you have a viable cable owned third national wireless carrier. Stay tuned.