By Alex Sherman
(Updated, June 20, 8:30 a.m.)
CHICAGO - Cox Communications Inc., the third-largest U.S. cable-TV operator, is considering selling its wireless network to a large telecommunications company, President Pat Esser said.
Cox will either sell the infrastructure to a company such as AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. or Sprint Nextel Corp., or tear down the network, Esser said Tuesday in an interview in Chicago. Cox has no plans to upgrade the network, which uses so-called third-generation technology, to support the faster 4G standard, Esser said. The company added that no customers ever used the 3G network.
Closely held Cox, based in Atlanta, said last month it would stop building out its own network and would instead rely on a partnership with Sprint to deliver wireless service to customers. The decision is based on Sprint’s speedier 4G network, Esser said, which he said will become the industry standard.
Cox is also in talks with Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. to use that venture’s network to further boost its wireless coverage, Esser said.
Cox has a variety of options for its wireless spectrum, said spokesman David Deliman. That includes using it for a future LTE network or working with another wireless provider as partners. Cox has no “near-term” plans to sell the spectrum, he said.
Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, declined to comment, as did Scott Sloat, a Sprint spokesman, and Brenda Raney, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman.
Cox offers mobile-phone service bundled with its broadband, video and landline voice services. Cox’s program to pay back customers for unused minutes has been successful with consumers, said Esser, who plans to roll out wireless service to more than 50 percent of the company’s footprint this year.