Cox Mobile launch proves something of a formality

Cox Communications announced the launch of its Cox Mobile MVNO service at CES, as expected, on Thursday.

The industry has been waiting for the formal introduction of the service for some months, and back in December the cable operator shared a save-the-date for the launch event at CES, so the arrival of the US mobile market’s newest service provider was by no means a surprise. And the event, when it finally came, yielded little in the way of new information.

Essentially, the firm confirmed that Cox Mobile is now available in its existing cable markets across US. It had pledged to do just that when it soft launched the service to its cable customers in August in three pilot markets: Hampton Roads, Virginia, Omaha, Nebraska, and Las Vegas. “The company plans to continue to launch Cox Mobile in its remaining markets on a rolling basis throughout the rest of the year,” it said at the time.

It seems to have done just that. At the launch the company reiterated its offer of unlimited voice and messaging, with two simple data plans to choose from; dubbed Pay As You Gig and Gig Unlimited, they’re pretty self-explanatory. You do have to be a Cox cable customer to sign up though, for now, at least. Which is what rivals Charter and Comcast did with their own MVNO offers, albeit some years ago.

Cox Mobile is arguably late to the party, being the last of the major US cablecos to tap into the wireless opportunity. But you could also claim that it was unfashionably early too, having walked away from a previous attempt at an MVNO just over a decade ago, before it had even rolled out services to its whole footprint, noting that it didn’t have the scale to compete.

In many ways, it still doesn’t. The company has a 6.5 million-strong customer base to target, according to its website, which pales into insignificance compared with the mobile customer base of approaching 211 million AT&T reported at the end of September.

But the world has changed in the past dozen years, with customers increasingly looking primarily for a decent data deal when selecting a mobile provider. And with its cable rivals weaving mobile into their offers, Cox could not afford to be left behind.

Speaking of whom, one thing we did learn at the launch event – although it had been widely rumoured already – was that Cox has one more thing in common with the other big cablecos: it too is using Verizon’s network to power its service.

It did not share the identity of its network provider in its admittedly fairly brief statement on the launch, but LightReading confirmed that the question was settled at the Las Vegas press event – Verizon.

“The convergence of wired and mobile communications has never been more important. Customers recognize Cox as a reliable provider of connectivity, so introducing a mobile phone offering was a natural extension of our services,” said Mark Greatrex, president of Cox Communications. “With Cox Mobile, we are offering new mobile phone options for consumers; ones that offer flexibility, reliability and the opportunity to save money,” he said.

Which sums the whole thing up pretty succinctly; Cox aims win over its customers to Cox Mobile – and bask in the related stickiness that can create – by offering a budget mobile data plan at a time when many people are feeling the economic pinch. It’s not exciting, nor market-altering, but it’s something of a no-brainer.


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