Cox Communications, looking to fend off AT&T and Verizon, will offer a bundled package of wireless services, Android mobile phones, TV and Internet.
Cox Communications, the nation's third largest cable operator, is taking on
AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have been slowly expanding into Cox's TV
On Nov. 19, the company introduced "Unbelievable Fair," a bundled
mobile phone and high-speed Internet service being extended to three regions:
Hampton Roads, Va.; Omaha,
Neb.; and Orange
County, Calif. The privately owned
company will be testing whether there's a market for the so-called quadruple
play-phone, wireless services, TV and Web-when gone about in a way that
eliminates "unfair" practices.
Cox will be the first wireless carrier to credit customers' bills for
minutes that go unused each month-5 cents for each unused minute, up to $20-versus
carrying over the minutes to the next month or having customers simply "lose"
"Wireless consumers have long been underserved on customer
service," Stephen Bye, Cox's vice president of wireless, said in a
statement. "We went a step further by introducing new services and
features to the Cox bundle that were built on fairness."
Unlike competitors Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which rely on Clearwire's
WiMax 4G network, Cox has struck a deal with Sprint to use its 3G network. It'll
pair the Sprint service with several Android-running smartphones, including the
HTC Desire, the Motorola Milestone, the LG
Axis, the HTC Hero and the HTC
Also available will be the Samsung Messenger Touch, the Samsung Profile, a
number of feature phones and the Cox On-the-Go modem.
Cox also plans to send customers free text messages, called Usage Alerts,
when they approach the maximum number of minutes and messages on their plan.
The move is likely to be applauded by the Federal Communications Commission,
which is looking to address consumer concerns and frustrations about
unanticipated overage fees and may consider making
such alerts an industry requirement.
Additionally, to "sweeten the reward," Cox will offer a free
upgrade-such as a premium entertainment channel, like HBO-to existing customers
who choose to add wireless to their account.
Trained staff-"Solutions Educators"-will be available to help
customers navigate and make the most of their services bundles, such as
teaching them how to program their DVR from their device.
"We recognize that we have some very formidable competitors in this
space," Bye told the Wall Street Journal, adding that 24 percent of Cox
customers have reportedly said that they're willing to switch to its mobile
Competitor Time Warner, along with Sprint, announced Oct. 18 that it will
offer its own branded 4G services via Clearwire. While Time Warner plans to
offer nationwide 3G service, with 4G where it's available, Cox, reports the
Journal, only plans to offer its service in areas where it operates. It also
declined to comment on what it's paying Sprint in the deal, and what its sales
expectations for the service are.
The Cox mobile service starts at $39.99 a month and includes free
mobile-to-mobile calling between Cox cell phones and landlines.
Earlier this year, Cox Business, a division of Cox Communications, began
offering a backup
service to its Internet customers, particularly focusing on SMBs.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.