The company announced the plan Monday and said it expects to have its cell phone service up and running next year in the geographical areas where it owns spectrum. Sprint Nextel will provide roaming service in other areas. The Cox spectrum is active in Atlanta; Las Vegas; New Orleans; Omaha, Neb.; San Diego; and scattered areas in Kansas and New Mexico.
"Wireless service will be a key driver to Cox's future growth," Cox president Patrick Esser said in a statement. "Our bundled customers will become even 'stickier.' To deliver the best customer experience, we will manage every aspect of the service, from product development to marketing and sales to back-office operations and customer support and billing."
The latest announcement is something of a follow-on to Cox's pioneering use of the bundling of voice, video, and data, which it first announced in 1997. The company said nearly two-thirds of its current customers purchase multiple services in a bundle.
Cox paid several hundred million dollars earlier this year to purchase 700-MHz spectrum in its service regions. The company, which said it has already invested more than $500 million in the program, including spectrum purchase, added that it's already building its own 3G wireless network and plans to test LTE infrastructure for future use.
By integrating the new wireless platform with existing services, Cox said the program will appeal to customers who want to combine the services with their lifestyle.
"Ten years ago, only Cox, a cable company, had the flexibility to introduce simpler telephone plans to the marketplace," said Dallas Clement, a senior VP at Cox. "With wireless, we have the flexibility yet again to introduce a simpler and better wireless offer."
Cox has experience in wireless through an earlier cell phone service it operated in San Diego and Las Vegas before selling it to Sprint. It also participated in the failed Pivot service, which cable companies used to offer cell phone service.
Another cable company -- Cablevision Systems -- has taken an alternative approach to providing wireless for its customers. The company, which primarily serves customers in the Metropolitan New York area, has installed free Wi-Fi service across a wide swath of New York and Connecticut. Customers with smartphones like Apple's iPhone, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, and other handsets equipped with Wi-Fi chipsets can utilize the Wi-Fi service.