Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cox to Add Wireless To Va. Cable Packages

Being the first to enter the local market will be beneficial for Cox, but the company is likely to encounter fierce competition in the future from Verizon and other phone companies offering similar packages, said Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming at Parks Associates, a Dallas telecommunications market research firm.

Nationally, cable companies are already competing with phone companies with quad-play bundles in some markets. Cai said Cox may find it difficult to counter competing offers if it must negotiate changes with not just Sprint but also its other partners.

The partnership "may not work as well because there are several companies involved . . . and they won't be able to make decisions as quickly," Cai said.

With the Pivot service, subscribers would be able to watch video and check e-mail from their cellphones, make unlimited calls between their cellphones and home phone lines, and receive text alerts whenever a voice mail is left at their home number. All fees would be bundled into one bill.

Although the Pivot package works with all Sprint cellphones, cable companies are offering a limited number of handsets, which may not appeal to consumers, Cai said.

Packingham said he expects the partnership to "incrementally" attract new subscribers for Sprint, which has been steadily losing high-paying customers for the past two years.

"We feel the worst part of that is behind us," he said. "Pivot is one of the many steps Sprint is taking to retain customers."

Analysts predict that consumers will be slow to adopt the quad-play plans. At the end of 2006, fewer than 1 million people subscribed to such plans, while 11 million used triple-play services. Triple-play subscribers are projected to outnumber quad-play customers by about 3 to 1 in 2010, according to Parks Associates.

Cox said about 25 percent of its customers subscribe to its triple-play bundle of services, which has been available in Northern Virginia for two years.

From the article "Cox to Add Wireless To Va. Cable Packages," by Kim Hart.

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