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Cox's Robbins Leads Wireless Agenda

Jim Robbins is shaking up the status quo once more before he retires from the helm of Atlanta-based Cox Communications at year's end. He is pursuing an industrywide wireless alliance to transport cable's bundled services outside the home and placing retransmission reform back on the Washington agenda. "The one thing I want to accomplish before I retire, if I can, is a wireless deal for the industry," Robbins said in an interview. Even without an industry consensus, Cox will partner with at least one larger cable operator, most likely Time Warner, to give a wireless provider the largest cable footprint possible to make cable's service triple-play portable. Although Cox has chipped away at wireless for nearly a decade, beginning with an early Sprint PCS deal, the cable industry has been caught off guard recently by the rapid prominence and power of wireless adoption. Telephone companies have moved swiftly to offer a voice and data bundle to which they are now adding video on both wireless and wire line platforms. The absence of a wireless strategy outside the home will challenge the cable industry's future growth, Robbins says. Cable could find itself competitively disadvantaged at a time when every subscriber counts.

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