Cablecos Pull Trigger on Cell Service

After months of speculation, it looks like the Sprint Nextel Corp.-cableco joint venture is about to bear fruit.

The wireless operator told USA Today that Time Warner Cable and Comcast Communications will go live with cell service in a handful of markets by the end of the year, with full deployments scheduled for the months following. First cities for Comcast will be Boston and Portland, Ore., at the end of this month. Time Warner will launch service in Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C. Both carriers will offer mobile video and have access to Sprint’s stable of content. Users will need to sign up for at least one other service with the cable operator before being able to subscriber to wireless services.

Cox Communications, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Advance/Newhouse Communications have all been in trials with blended “quad-play” services since a partnership announcement with Sprint one year ago. Thus, the offers will go beyond a typical MVNO arrangement. VoIP for instance will be integrated; cable voice subscribers can receive alerts on their handhelds when a message is left at home and can access messages via a unified voice mailbox. And Time Warner has reportedly been testing dual-mode at-home Wi-Fi/cellular service.

Down the road, users will see remote DVR programming and wireless personal video recorder functionality that will allow them to record cable programming on the handset.

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