- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cox Communications is partnering with Sprint to offer wireless phone service, making the jump from the coveted “triple play” — bundling telephone, television and Internet services together — to the “quad play.”

The company, which provides cable and other services to nearly 280,000 customers in Fairfax County and Fredericksburg, Va., said the new service, called Pivot, will be available starting today through Cox, whose local headquarters are in Herndon, and certain Sprint stores. The service will use the wireless network of Reston-based Sprint.

The move underscores the ongoing convergence of communications services as cable providers, like Cox, enter the phone business while telecommunications companies, like Verizon, roll out TV services. Companies in both sectors trumpet the ease of having all media services listed on the same monthly bill.

Cox outlined several advantages of the new service. Pivot subscribers can make unlimited calls to and from their home phones without using minutes; watch TV and access TV listings on their mobile handsets; access Cox e-mail and the Internet; and receive text alerts when a voicemail is left on their home phone. In addition, the company said, customers can download songs from the Sprint Music Store, play multiplayer video games and use Sprint Picture Mail.

Pivot customers can choose from nine handsets, including the Palm Treo and Motorola RAZR models.

Prices for the service vary according to the number of features and minutes of the plan, ranging from $30 to $250 per month.

“We are thrilled to be the only communications provider in the Washington, D.C., region to offer all four services to our customers on one billing statement,” said Janet Barnard, vice president and regional manager of Cox Northern Virginia.

But that’s not so, according to Verizon, which offers customers wireless, television, Internet and phone services. The company said it has offered the “quad play” to customers on one bill “for awhile now,” according to spokesman Jim Smith.

“That’s just flat wrong,” Mr. Smith said. “We have had double, triple and quadruple service bundles in the market at package prices since January.”

Verizon has targeted Cox and D.C. and Maryland cable provider Comcast by expanding its new FiOS television service in the region.

Telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan said bundling is “the new face of the competitive telecom landscape.”

“Customers who do business with both their local phone company and their cable television company will increasingly buy the big bundle of everything from one company,” Mr. Kagan said. “That means they say goodbye to the other. That’s the new world of competition we are rushing toward as an industry.”

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