Cable Operators Plan to Apply for Wireless Airwaves

May 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said the company is considering making a bid with other cable operators for some of the wireless airwaves that the Federal Communications Commission is set to auction in late June.

Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications are planning to join with cellphone company Sprint Nextel in applying for permission from regulators to make a joint bid on the wireless spectrum, Mr. Britt said Wednesday at an investor conference in New York.

“Adding mobility could make our offerings more attractive,” Mr. Britt said.

The four cable companies are working together to meld wireless services with their cable products so they can expand their package of services. Cable operators are posting subscriber gains as customers choose to get television, high-speed Internet and telephone service through one provider.

In November, the quartet struck an alliance with Sprint Nextel to explore ways to use wireless technology to do everything from program digital video recorders to forwarding phone calls made to cable-based telephone lines.

Cable companies have expressed interest in bringing cellular features to their product bundle because demand for wireless will probably grow as delivering larger chunks of data over the air becomes easier.

The cable operators will be competing in the wireless arena against industry leaders Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc., which own wireless titans Verizon Wireless and Cingular, respectively.

The cable companies’ application to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission doesn’t necessarily mean they will bid on the airwaves, Britt said.

The wireless-spectrum auction is set to begin June 29 and could bring in as much as $15 billion, analysts estimate.