By DAVID TWIDDY
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 29, 2004; 3:32 PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sprint Corp. and Time Warner Cable are discussing a
deal that would allow the cable provider to offer cell phone service, the
companies said Wednesday.
Such a deal would make the unit of Time Warner Inc. the only major cable
company to offer the so-called "quadruple play" -- television, high-speed
Internet access and both wired and wireless phone service.
It would also be the latest in a series of partnerships for Sprint in which
other companies introduce their own brand of cell service using Sprint's
network. These include deals with AT&T Corp., the ESPN unit of Walt Disney
Co., Virgin Mobile USA LLC, and Qwest Communications International Inc.
While representatives of both companies confirmed that talks are underway,
they wouldn't say if a deal was imminent, as was reported Wednesday by The
Wall Street Journal. The paper said the new service would be limited to
Kansas City market and become available in the first quarter of 2005.
Sprint and Time Warner, the nation's second-largest cable company with 11
million subscribers, announced a partnership a year ago that allowed Time
Warner to offer standard phone service over Sprint's landline network using
Internet technology. Time Warner is also working with MCI Corp. on Internet
telephone service and has signed up 200,000 voice customers in its 31
markets, said Time Warner spokesman Keith Cocozza.
Since then, Sprint has announced a number of similar deals with other cable
companies, such as Mediacom Communications Inc. and USA Companies.
Sprint spokesman Jeff Shafer said the Overland Park, Kan.-based company is
in talks with all of its cable partners to eventually resell Sprint
wireless service as part of a package deals to subscribers.
"Our relationship with the cable companies is as much about offering the
quadruple play as it is offering (Internet phone service)," Shafer said.
"This is all about offering a compelling bundle to the consumer."
Cable companies are in a bitter fight with traditional phone carriers, such
as SBC Communications Inc., BellSouth Corp. and Verizon Communications
Inc., as both are trying to offer the full range of television programming,
high-speed Internet, standard voice services and wireless.
The strategy is based on the assumption a customer receiving a wide range
of services from a single company is less likely to jump ship to another
A consortium of cable companies, including Time Warner, are studying how to
break into the wireless business, either by building their own network,
buying up a wireless provider or teaming up with a company like Sprint to
resell the service.
Sprint is the nation's third-largest cellular provider with about 23
million subscribers. Earlier this month, Sprint and Nextel Communications
Inc. said they will combine in a $35 billion deal that would create a
company with 38 million wireless subscribers.