In one of the first signs of good news that I have seen recently surrounding our market (other than self serving statements from public tower company executives at the PCIA conference), Cox Communications recently announced that it will build its own Cox Communications cellular network. Cox Communications spent $550 million to purchase spectrum in Atlanta, New Orleans, San Diego, Omaha, and Las Vegas along with a good part of Kansas and southern New Mexico.
Cox intends to build out those markets and connect to Cox fiber in those areas for backhaul. In other areas, Cox consumers will roam on the Sprint/Nextel network. (Cox must have decided that network quality wasn’t important for roaming).
While the full impact of Cox’s development plan is yet to be known, at a bare minimum, this should equate to at least 2000 new cell sites over the next few years. If recent deployments by MetroPCS and Leap are any indications, the majority of these sites will be on rooftops and existing towers. One interesting note- in an article in the USA Today– Cox alleges that they are looking towards LTE as their future 4G technology platform. However, with Sprint/Nextel using WiMAX, I have to wonder how Cox intends for its users to roam on the Sprint/Nextel network and still have their phones function for advanced services unless Cox intends to use Sprint/Nextel’s network in the beginning entirely.