Atlanta-based Cox Communications has rolled out wireless service in Santa Barbara.
Cox, which has a cable monopoly in the city, announced earlier this year that it planned to bundle in mobile phone services with its Internet, telephone and cable services for an all-in-one bundle. It is buying airtime from Sprint at wholesale prices to resell to consumers.
The Cox plans start at $39.99 a month for a basic voice plan, the same entry-level offered in Santa Barbara by competing carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which still offers plans under its own brand name in the city. T-Mobile, which AT&T is vying to buy in a deal that faces a lawsuit from federal anti-trust regulators, offers a cheaper basic plan at $34.99.
Along with the rollout of its mobile phone and bundled services, Cox is opening two retail locations where consumers can buy phones and plans. The stores are in Loreto Plaza in Santa Barbara and in Isla Vista.
Cox’s decision to resell Sprint’s services was an abrupt about-face for the firm after it began to invest heavily in building out its own wireless network but then abandoned the plans. In May, industry trade publication FierceWireless broke the news that Cox was abandoning its plans to build a nationwide mobile broadband network, for which it had spent $550 million buying wireless spectrum in its various markets.
Cox told the trade publication that it was sticking to reselling Sprint in order to meet its goal of offering wireless services to 50 percent of its customer base by the end of this year.