Cox Building Cell Network, Big Plans For Mobile Video

Cox is breaking away from the competition and announcing plans to move forward with its own cellular network.  While other cable providers are backing mobile broadband startup Clearwire, Cox wants to position itself for the future of mobile technology the old fashion way.

Cox decided to go it alone after a failed attempt to offer cellphone service along with Comcast, Time Warner and other cable providers through a partnership with Sprint Nextel.  That joint venture, dubbed “Pivot,” dissolved last year when the companies couldn’t agree on pricing and a marketing strategy.  Being to large of an opportunity for Cox to pass up, the company hopes to differentiate itself, and tap in to the ever-growing mobile market.

Stephen Bye, vice president of wireless at Cox, said providing cellphone service will allow Cox to offer a bundle of TV, broadband and wireless service.  Beyond that, the company can use its TV experience to exploit the nascent mobile video market.  Only about 4.5% of U.S. cellphone users watch video on the small screen, generally in the form of two-minute streaming clips, according to comScore.

Cox has already partnered with mPortal, Inc. to provide a mobile application store similar to Apple’s App Store, and the company vows to use any and all mobile technologies introduced by the likes of Google and others to compliment its app store.  Cox plans to offer cellphone service as well as wireless broadband access for laptops in its home markets, using roaming deals with national wireless providers so users can get service elsewhere.

It’s a risky proposition, and an expensive one, but Cox feels confident that it’s a move they need to make to stay ahead of its competition.  If done correctly, I think it will work, but building an entire mobile network from the ground up is a daunting task, and going up against carriers who have spent decades perfecting their network and the data sent over it is even more daunting.