Sprint, Cox Make Peace, Cut Deal

Burying the hatchet on a patent spat between the companies, Sprint and Cox Communications inked a new multi-year business agreement centered on the densification of Sprint’s wireless network.

Under the deal, part of a settlement that ends the aforementioned patent suits, paves the way for Sprint to use Cox’s broadband infrastructure for to accelerate the densification of Sprint’s wireless network while also beefing up the efficiency of its macro backhaul and small cell deployment.

Sprint noted that the new deal with Cox “will significantly accelerate deployment” throughout Cox's national footprint.

The agreement will also “increase and strengthen other business ties between the two companies,” the companies added, but didn’t elaborate on what that provision might specifically entail or if it might include an option for Cox to pursue an MVNO agreement with Sprint.

Cox would only add that the new agreement is “related to patent suit settlement and involves us providing additional services to Sprint that we offer today (wireless backhaul, small cell, etc.). They (and other carriers) will continue to be one of our largest customers.”

Unlike Comcast and Charter Communications, Cox did not push forward with an MVNO agreement with Verizon Communications that stemmed from the sale of Advanced Wireless Services spectrum to the mobile carrier. Cox previously built and deployed its own mobile service, but pulled the plug on that effort in late November 2011. Sprint and Altice USA announced the formation of a “full” MVNO deal last November.

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“This is another opportunity to work with a strategic partner to accelerate our densification plans to improve our network performance and experience for Sprint customers throughout Cox's national territory," Sprint CTO John Saw said, in a statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to look for new opportunities to work with Cox in ways that are mutually beneficial."

"We are pleased to continue our positive, long-term working relationship that benefits both companies and consumers," added Steve Rowley, executive vice president, Cox Business. 

The deal ends a court battle between Cox and Sprint. Last March, Cox asked the Supreme Court to hear its challenge to a decision that the MSO’s VoIP service infringed on certain Sprint patents.

Sprint and Comcast settled a separate patent last fall. Time Warner Cable (now part of Charter Communications) lost its case with Sprint in a judgement handed down last year. Sprint’s suit against Cable One was dismissed by the court in November 2016, according to court documents.

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In December, Sprint targeted Mediacom Communications in a suit alleging that the cable operator had violated more than a dozen patents tied to VoIP services.