Sprint Nextel CEO Gary Forsee confirmed Wed that the cable jv is testing wireless in 7 markets with friendlies. The service will launch later this year in Raleigh, NC (Time Warner Cable), Portland, OR (Comcast), Boston (Comcast), Austin, TX (Time Warner), 2 Cox markets and 1 Bright House market. "We’ve spent a little more time than I probably would’ve thought or any of my colleagues would’ve thought a year ago in getting the product right," Forsee said at a Goldman Sachs conference Wed, referring primarily to back office issues. In the cable markets trialing mobile, customers get a home page for their cable operator when they turn on their EV-DO Sprint device, Forsee said. "We’ve established joint messaging across the 2 platforms, joint emails, common voicemail, home and on-the-go calling plans," he said. "So we’ve done something that’s different for customers than other experiences that may be in place today. This is Phase 1." Comcast’s Steve Burke suggested that cable’s interest in the recent FCC advanced wireless auction could portend offering video, voice and data wirelessly in the future. "When the dust settles, I think we’ll be more clear about our plans," he said. Cable’s jv with Sprint spent about $2.4bln on 137 licenses. What’s done with the spectrum remains to be seen, said Forsee, who suggested that Sprint could use it to fill some holes in its coverage or that cable companies could decide to do something independently with it. Tom Rutledge of Cablevision, which is not part of the Sprint jv, questioned consumer interest in getting mobile phone service from cable operators. "Whether people are willing to change out their cellular service to be connected to a quadruple play or not, I’m not sure," he said. While CVC isn’t part of the consortium, Rutledge said he expects the MSO’s invitation to participate in the future won’t expire.

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