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Cox Communications announced it has started trialing its wireless offering in three markets (using Sprint Nextel's network) as part of a buildup to a larger wireless expansion scheduled for next year (that will use Cox's own spectrum and equipment from Huawei, Starent and others). Cox Communications has started trialing its wireless offering in three markets as part of a prelude to a larger wireless expansion scheduled for next year. The initial test markets are in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Omaha, Nebraska and Orange County, California.  Here are some sounds bites from the Fierce Wireless interview with Stephen Bye below.

Demand from Customers: Our customers are interested and have a need for wireless communications, and are certainly interested in buying that product form us. We've been very successful in selling voice, video and data into the home, and they have a need and an interest in buying wireless from us, so we see it as a component of the package and the service mix that we can offer to be a total communications provider. AT&T and Verizon have been aggressively pushing their U-verse and FiOS services but that is not a motivation for us.

Launch: We'll roll it out as we go and as we build in the successes that we have, we'll gradually roll it out into all of our markets, and expect it to be very successful. We generally do things on a market-by-market basis, and we're going to do the same thing with wireless as we've done with every other product.

Roaming: Like any other wireless provider, there's probably not a single wireless carrier out there that doesn't have a coverage model that's based on roaming.

Infrastructure to Leverage:  There's clearly infrastructure and capabilities that we can leverage and take advantage of to build upon to add that fourth product or any of those other products and services to the core.

Retail Distribution: You need to have the distribution to make that work.  In conjunction with rolling out wireless we're investing heavily in revamping and repositioning our retail distribution channel, not only to the benefit of our wireless business but to the benefit of the rest of our business.   

Product Launch:  The customer will be able to enjoy a nationwide experience and service. It's not going to be different from the experience they have with any other provider in the market today. We are going to have a national product focused on our existing customers and the product will work throughout the country

Sprint/Nextel Relationship In some markets we are taking advantage of their infrastructure, to get time to market, but we're also building out own network as well. We have roaming agreements with a number of providers, of which Sprint is one of them.

Spectrum: The networks that we own, the customer while they're on that network will be using a handset with an AWS radio. When they move and they happen to be roaming on someone else's network they'll use a different radio, but it will be transparent to the customer. Cox paid $304.6 million for 22 spectrum licenses covering areas in California, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and elsewhere as part of last year's 700 MHz spectrum auction--is leveraging Sprint Nextel's CDMA EV-DO network for these initial markets. e think the evolution towards LTE is the right answer for us. And we think there's a global ecosystem out there that's emerging to support that that will bring scale and unit cost that we can take advantage of. Plus, it puts us with the rest of the industry on path toward 4G.

Bundling: Two-thirds of our customers are buying at least two products from us, and almost a third of customers buying all three products. So that's our position in the market and we've been very successful in offering that suite of services to customers, and we expect wireless will be another component of that communications package.

Video Services:  The second motivation as we look at wireless is we're sort of at the beginning of the frontier on data and video services and non-voice services moving into the wireless space, and being able to take those services that the customer has within the home outside the home.

Content StrategyNone

The combined list of femtocell manufactures have raised approximately $270M from various VCs and strategic investors over the last 2 years.  This list was compiled using Crunch Base numbers as well as news articles.  My biggest concern for these companies is the lack of consumer awareness that the companies and their products have in the marketplace.  How many consumers have heard of any of these companies below discussed in the media or know what a femtocell is?  The answer is virtually zero.
For the last two years I have noticed a pattern of frustration from executives at these companies who vent their frustration having to sell their femtocells through the carrier channels.  It troubles me that all of these companies continue rely on incompetent marketers (the carriers) to sell their products and educate consumers that they exist.  Cannibalization of your customers marketing just might be the only way to get ahead in business.   I strongly suggesting that each of these companies will need to "steal a page from the Google Nexus One Phone" and start doing some demand side research of who needs the product and where.  Its obvious that the carriers have very little financial incentive to push femtocells to their customers for fear of cannibalizing their existing businesses.  Yes I am suggesting that femtocell marketing executives start thinking like Cannibal Lecter in order to make their companies successful. Sometimes cannibalization of your own customers is the only way to succeed and rise about the crowd.

    Who really has 3G Coverage at home?

    3G coverage at home could be a huge opportunity for high speed internet providers who already have connectivity into the home.  The chart below depicts an uncharted opportunity for these high speed internet access providers to participate in the wireless revolution and compete against AT&T and Verizon.  Of the 7,000 different high speed internet access providers who  visited Deadcellzones.com in 2009 (according to Google Analytics),  there seems to be a high concentration of 10 broadband and cable / DSL providers who frequently contribute dead zone data to our user generated coverage maps.  This has given us data to estimate that roughly 70%+ of US homes do not have seamless 3G coverage and 50% do not have any home coverage.  Our list below represents the IP addresses of the ISP networks when someone visits our web site http://deadcellzones.com

    Time Warner (Road Runner) is the 3rd largest high speed internet access provider with 15 million customers yet has the highest frequency of visitors who complain about cell phone coverage at their home.  Comcast is the largest high speed internet access provider with 25 million homes and also has a highest frequency of visitors to Deadcellzones.com.  Ironically, Verizon who brags about their 3G coverage maps with 15 million high speed internet customers is very high up on a this list.  If this information made its way into a commercial Verizon's executives might get some egg on their face.  Will Verizon be able to compete with cable companies getting into the home cell phone business?

    We think cable companies will eventually be formidable competitors in wireless considering most people use their phones 70% indoors.  The battle is just beginning and the big players are trying to figure out coverage, bandwidth, spectrum, etc.  Here is a ranked order of cable and wireless carriers by subscribers who are all fighting for wireless lines into the home to compete for femtocell deployments in the US

    High Speed Internet Access Subscribers and (Femtocell Option):
    • Comcast - 25 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • AT&T - 20 million (AT&T microcell)
    • Time Warner - 15 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Verizon - 15 million (Airave femtocell)
    • Cox - 6 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Cablevision - 5 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Charter- 5 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Bright House - 2 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)

    Who Wins The Femtocell Race? Cable, Wireless or Google

    Arguably the most important aspect of deploying femtocells or enhanced mobile services into homes is who owns the fiber or cable line in the home.  Why is this important?  Two thirds of mobile phone subscribers in the US do not have seamless wireless coverage in home and all could benefit from the use of a femtocell. Femtocells are small cellular base stations, typically designed for use in a home or small business. It connects to the service provider’s network via broadband (such as DSL or cable); current designs typically support 2 to 4 active mobile phones in a residential setting  We think each company below will not be consumer friendly about putting a competitors voice traffic over their lines into a home and will eventually force you to buy the TV, Internet, Mobile, (Home phone optional) all from the same company. Here is a ranked order of cable and wireless carriers by subscribers who are all fighting for wireless lines into the home to compete for femtocell deployments in the US:

    Cable Subscribers and (Femtocell Option)
    • Comcast - 25 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell) 
    • AT&T U-Verse - 20 million (AT&T microcell)
    • Time Warner - 15 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Verizon Fios - 15 million (Airave femtocell)
    • Cox - 6 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Cablevision - 5 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Charter - 5 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    • Bright House - 2 million (Sprint / Clearwire Wimax femtocell)
    Wireless Carrier Subscribers and (Femtocell Option)
    • Verizon  - 89 million (Airave)
    • AT&T - 82 million (AT&T Microcell)
    • Sprint  - 48 million (Clearwire)
    • T-Mobile - 34 million (HotSpot@Home UMA / Wifi)
    • Tracfone  - 13 million (None)
    • MetroPCS - 6 million (None)
    • US Cellular - 6 million (None)
    • Virgin Mobile - 5 million (None)
    • Cricket - 5 million (None)

    Over the last few years carriers have focused on the technical challenges of integrating femtocells into their mobile networks, but they must not overlook the importance of successfully marketing femtocells within the industry and amongst their consumer base.  They have somewhat developed a common terminology but they need to have coordinated branding / marketing strategy to justify usage cases in order to drive femtocell adoption. To be successful, operators will need to develop compelling value propositions aimed at the most appropriate regions who have poor in-building coverage (see our maps). Enhanced indoor cell phone signals and reduced call charges for voice calls made in the home may not be enough to persuade mobile users to adopt femtocell technology, especially in light of alternatives based on UMA / WiFi.  For femtocells to be successful, the industry will need to have a smart, targeted, and find differentiated way to market the technology.  If they don't do it soon Google will soon take a leadership and educate their rapidly growing customer base how to make VoIP calls on their ad supported Android phones.

    We Deadcellzones.com would like to play a an industry role educating and marketing directly to consumers on how to fix coverage problems in the home.  Please contact us with questions and feel free to leave your comments and feedback below.

    It doesn't surprise me that AT&T has come out with a device or femtocell that helps with iPhone coverage indoors. Lots of people I know who have iPhones say their coverage stinks compared to previous phones and can't use their phone any longer in the home or office. Maybe that's why AT&T has the most wireless coverage complaints on DeadCellZones.com.

    AT&T's 3G MicroCell acts like a mini cellular tower for your home or small business environment. It connects to AT&T's network via your existing broadband internet service (such as DSL or cable) and is designed to support up to 10 3G capable wireless phones in a home or small business setting. The cost of the device has not been announced, although similar devices for Sprint and Verizon retail for $99 and $249, respectively but they are only 2G speeds. Sprint charges a $5.00 monthly fee, but Verizon does not charge anything beyond the initial cost. Select features include:
    • Installing your device near a window is strongly recommended to ensure access to Global Positioning System (GPS). A GPS link is needed to verify the device location during the initial startup. GPS signals are even worse at penetrating walls than cellular signals. The GPS confirmation is needed so that AT&T knows you are not bringing AT&T’s network to an unauthorized area.
    • Enhanced coverage indoors - supports both voice and data up to 5000 square feet.
    • The 3G MicroCell device is portable. The device may be moved, provided the new location is within the AT&T authorized service area and properly registered online.
    • 3G also has limitations outdoors and when you are traveling you consider a signal booster for your car products like the Wilson Electronic's iPhone Booster.
    • AT&T Official Description Here:
    Related stories:
    Frustrated AT&T MicroCell Customers Complain Here
    AT&T to Spend $1B on Free Femtocells
    AT&T's Microcell U-Verse Set-Top Box
    Will AT&Ts Microcell + New Pricing Mean Data Costs More?

    Mippin feed validation KEY=a111229a

    Saturday, December 05, 2009

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    Do 50,000 people (teenagers) filling out a surveys for money justify AT&T deserving the worst customer service rating from Consumer Reports?  I am not trying to defend AT&T but I would argue that Consumer Reports survey methodology is flawed.  Service and coverage is a local issue and no one should trust surveys which represent .02% of the entire U.S. wireless market.  They need to provide more transparency about who is filling out the survey based on this quote: "AT&T ranked the lowest in overall consumer satisfaction in 19 of the 26 surveyed cities (which), ranging from New York and San Francisco to (as FierceWireless points out) Atlanta, Cleveland, and Houston. Verizon, meanwhile, ranked first in all 26 cities in the Consumer Reports survey. Ouch."

    Deadcellzones.com has far more visitors and contributors that contribute local and objective views about service.   Consumer Reports is drinking the same Cool Aid all of the carriers want you to drink and trust surveys and coverage maps.  Wireless is a local issue and you shouldn't care about customer service if your phone works, the price is competitive and you have coverage in your home, office and places you frequently visit.

    Related Articles:
    Consumer Reports Old iPhone & AT&T News

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