Sprint pairs with Cox for small cell rollout support

As part of an agreement to set aside a patent suit between the two companies, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Cox Communications say they have reached a multi-year business agreement that will see Sprint use Cox's wired network infrastructure to support network densification. Use of Cox's network also will increase the efficiency of Sprint's macro backhaul and small cell deployment, according to the announcement.

As part of an agreement to set aside a patent suit between the two companies, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Cox Communications say they have reached a multi-year business agreement that will see Sprint use Cox's wired network infrastructure to support network densification. Use of Cox's network also will increase the efficiency of Sprint's macro backhaul and small cell deployment, according to the announcement.

The agreement also will "increase and strengthen other business ties between the two companies," they added.

Sprint had sued Cox six years ago, alleging that the cable operator had violated patents on voice over packet technology. (Sprint had sued other cable operators for the same reason as well.) The new agreement settles the disagreement and sets a cooperative path for the two companies in the future.

"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," said Sprint's Chief Technology Officer John Saw. "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," said Steve Rowley, executive vice president, Cox Business.

The mobile backhaul and fronthaul support agreement is the second Sprint has reached with a cable operator in the past three months. The operator signed a similar deal with Altice USA as part of the creation of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement that will see Altice offer mobile services using Sprint's network (see "Sprint, Altice Ink MVNO Deal" on Lightwave sister site Broadband Technology Report.) There is no word on whether an MVNO partnership with Cox is one of the "new opportunities" to which Saw referred.

It is quite possible that at least some of the densification efforts will leverage DOCSIS 3.1 enabled hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) infrastructure. DOCSIS 3.1 supports 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps or more upstream; a new version not yet commercialized fully, Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1, will support symmetrical 10-Gbps transmission. DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities can be delivered via all-fiber infrastructures as well.

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