Cox kills Sprint-based cellphone service

(AP) -- Cox Communications, the country's third-largest cable company, stopped offering cellphone service Wednesday, saying it's too small to compete with the big phone companies.

Cox, based in Atlanta, inaugurated the service less than a year ago, and kept adding service areas throughout the year. It added San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif., less than two months ago.

The company's goal was to tie all of its technologies together by offering customers four services on one bill: cable TV, Internet, home phone and cellphone service. But Cox lacked the scale to compete in the cellphone sector and wasn't able to sell "iconic wireless devices" - meaning high-end smartphones like the .

Cox Wireless was available to less than half of Cox's roughly 4.8 million cable-TV subscribers. Service areas included parts of northern Virginia, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

Privately held Cox said that subscribers will have service through March, and will get a $150 credit for each line that's disconnected. It did not say how many customers it had gained.

Cox used Corp.'s wireless network for the service. Earlier this year, it killed plans to build its own wireless network. The company had spent $550 million on airwave licenses for the network.

Cable companies have a history of edging into wireless services, then backing out. Cox itself built and operated a covering Southern California and Las Vegas in the 1990s, then sold it to Sprint. It was part of a group of that teamed up with Sprint in 2005 to market wireless service to their TV customers, but the project was scuttled in 2008.


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