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) -- Cable company

Cox Communications

is adding a wireless cellular network to its existing video, Internet and landline telephone services in an effort to strengthen its position in the cable communications sector.

The private Atlanta-based company is the first U.S. cable operator to test a "quadruple play" package by offering consumers phone, television, Internet, and wireless service.

Cox is also looking to fend off phone carriers such as


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, which have been expanding their television services into the the cable company's major coverage areas.

Most of Cox's cable competitors already offer wireless services.



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has its own Wi-Fi network while


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Time Warner Cable





wireless broadband service.

Cox, which is the third-largest cable company in the U.S., will use

Sprint Nextel's

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network while it builds its own network.

Cox's wireless network will first be available in Orange County, Calif., Omaha, Neb., and Hampton Roads, Va., locations where the company is already the local cable provider. It says it plans to expand the network, but hasn't specified when or where.

Cox will offer discounts and special packages to its existing cable customers who add wireless to their service bundle. It will sell monthly cellular service contracts and will give its customers free calling between Cox mobile phones and landlines.

Cox is offering a lineup of phones including five devices the operate on


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Android software. The phones can be purchased at its new stores, located in the three regions where its service is available.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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Theresa McCabe


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