Cox will be the first cable company to offer true mobile services, launching in three markets over the summer and expanding over the next 18 months to cover about three-quarters of its total footprint, we’re told. The offer will include voice and data services and will thus be a direct competitor to AT&T and Verizon quad-play services.
Seven handset models will be available early, and we’re told that up to six more are likely to be introduced in 2010, including Android smarphones. We also hear that HP is in discussions with Cox, though our sources can’t confirm whether its about Palm smartphones or forthcoming WebOS tablets.
Cox’s mobile move will create a test of a full mobile play for MSOs versus a data-only 4G play, because the ClearWire WiMAX partnership is how other major cable players are going. If Cox ends up with the right idea, it might create pressure for cable giants to buy Sprint, though how that deal would shake out and who would end up with Sprint is anyone’s guess at this point. We do believe there is a strong symbiosis between mobile data services and wireline entertainment services, but we’re less confident that voice has to be a part of the picture.