In a move designed to increase the company's efficiency and improve customer service, Cox Communications announced Friday afternoon that it was shrinking its field systems from 11 to nine.

"Combining systems into fewer, larger consolidated operations gives us greater flexibility, allows us to improve our speed-to-market and better integrate our business," said Cox chief operating officer Leo Brennan. "We are confident this will allow us to provide even better service and continue to earn the trust of our customers."
Cox, the nation's third-largest cable operator, is also reshuffling executives to accommodate the move to nine divisions. Cox said the system consolidations would be completed over the next few months while the executive changes were effective Feb. 1.

The San Diego and Orange Coast, California operations will be combined as one operating unit under the leadership of David Bialis, who previously oversaw the company's Western Region operations. Bill Geppert, senior vice president and general manager of the Cox San Diego system, will retire at the end of February.

Duffy Leone, senior vice president and general manager of Cox's Orange Coast system, has been appointed senior vice president of operations for all of Cox's California service area.

The Omaha/Sun Valley system will be folded into Cox's Kansas/Arkansas operations, under the leadership of senior vice president and general manager Janet Barnard. David Blau, previously senior vice president and general manager for Cox's Omaha operations, is transferring to Cox's headquarters in Atlanta, where he will serve as vice president of new growth and development for the corporate strategy group.

Cable operators have been realigning or consolidating their field divisions for improved efficiencies. Last year, Comcast restructured its field divisions from four to three.