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Sprint, Cox Bury the Hatchet in Network Partnership

Business handshake

Sprint and Cox Communications have moved past fighting over patent lawsuits to forming a new partnership.

The mobile operator and cable provider have partnered to let Sprint use Cox’s broadband infrastructure to improve its backhaul and small-cell deployment. Sprint says it aims to “densify” its network to better its performance and customer experience.

A short announcement from Sprint said that “the agreement will increase and strengthen other business ties between the two companies.” The news came from Sprint and did not elaborate on what Cox gets out of the agreement.

Sprint's John Saw

Sprint’s John Saw

“This is another opportunity to work with a strategic partner to accelerate our densification plans to improve our network performance and experience for Sprint customers throughout Cox’s national territory,” said John Saw, Sprint’s chief technology officer. “Moving forward, we will continue to look for new opportunities to work with Cox in ways that are mutually beneficial.”

Steve Rowley, executive vice president of Cox Business, says the multi-year agreement is a continuation of the two companies’ working relationship.

The deal comes more than five years after the companies sued each other for patent infringement. Sprint accused Cox of infringing on 12 patents, and Cox later claimed that Sprint infringed on two. The Kansas City Star reports that the new agreement is the result of a settlement between the two companies late last year.

Our sister site Light Reading notes that wireless carriers are looking for ways to densify their networks in order to support ever-growing mobile communications traffic.

“While the large mobile carriers often boast about their spectrum holdings, they have also recognized in recent years that they need more wireline infrastructure to backhaul the traffic that spectrum can carry,” Senior Editor Mari Silbey writes. “That fact has led to a lot of speculation over potential tie-ups between the mobile operators and their cable counterparts. No major mergers have yet taken place, but that hasn’t stopped continued discussions.”

Lisa Belot, communications manager for Sprint, tells Channel Partners that her company will improve its network using the Cox footprint and bring new benefits to Sprint partners and customers.

“This agreement allows us to accelerate our existing network densification plans because it gives Sprint the opportunity to piggyback on Cox’s existing infrastructure – overhead and some underground lines as well as utility poles – independent of any permit and reduces our macro backhaul and small-cell deployment costs,” Belot said.

Sprint partnered with Altice USA last November for a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement, which gave Altice access to Sprint’s network and Sprint access to Altice’s broadband platform. This is another example of Sprint working to densify its network.


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