Cox to Bid in 700-MHz DTV Auction

Cox Communications has thrown its hat into the ring to participate in the 700-Megahertz wireless spectrum auction next January, as two of its wireless joint-venture partners – Comcast and Time Warner Cable – have announced they’ll sit this one out.

Cox director of media relations David Grabert confirmed that the operator will be a bidder in the auction, and that the company will bid without any partners. He declined to comment further.

Cox already has a stake in SpectrumCo, the joint venture among Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Advance/Newhouse Communications. The four operators acquired 137 licenses for Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum – covering 91% of the U.S. population – for $2.4 billion in an FCC auction last year.

Time Warner Cable president and CEO Glenn Britt told a group of investors and analysts at the UBS Securities Media & Entertainment conference Monday that the company had decided to not participate in the 700-MHz auction. 

“We are not going to be in the auction. We will not file,” he said, adding, “We have no intention of trying to build the fifth cellular network.”

Also Monday, Comcast announced it will not participate in the 700-MHz auction, citing its interest in SpectrumCo.

The FCC is auctioning 62 MHz of spectrum in the 700-MHz band, which is being made available because of the government mandate that local TV stations discontinue analog broadcasts in that spectrum by Feb. 17, 2009. The auction is set to begin Jan. 24.

Cox’s plans to bid in the 700-MHz auction were reported Monday by Light Reading’s Cable Digital News site.

Other confirmed bidders are Verizon Wireless, which filed an application with the FCC to participate, and Google, which last week announced plans for a solo bid.