Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and top lobbyist David Cohen again today attempted to defend the company's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Speaking at the Re/code Code conference
in Rancho Palo Verdes, California, Roberts again tackled the three big concerns about Comcast growing larger: more usage caps, greater anti-competitive leverage against all manner of competitors, and the company's abysmal reputation when it comes to customer service
Netflix and Level 3 have accused Comcast (and AT&T and Verizon) of letting peering points with transit middle men saturate to force content companies to come to them for direct peering
, which Level3 and Netflix worry will result in a tightening noose over the years. Roberts followed AT&T's rhetorical lead
in trying to argue that Netflix just wants to ride Comcast pipes for free:
(Netflix CEO Reed Hastings) would like it for free. It's a business dispute. Who wouldn't like it for free? You used to pay the Post Office three quarters of a billion dollars to send DVDs around and they're used to wanting it to be free. On the other hand, we don't want to charge Netflix different than any other company but they do amount to a third of all the bits on the Internet....the deal that we made was they reduced their expenses generally speaking over the life of the agreement and speed up the experience getting to the Internet. So customer performance is better, they've saved money. I'm not sure why that isn't in everyone's interest.
Except Netflix recently stated
that paying to access Comcast customers wasn't the same as paying a transit middle man like Cogent or Level3 for long distance transit, the company accusing Comcast of "double dipping."
Roberts also briefly touched on Comcast's plans to cap users, the CEO mirroring Cohen's recent claims
that Comcast doesn't have caps:
We have experimented in two or three markets with some usage-based pricing. Obviously we don't want to frustrate customers. We've gotten ride of any kind of cap and are looking for ways to share the cost of this network. It's (network use) is exploding, 30 to 40% in the amount of bits people consume every year for 20 compounded years in a row and probably the next 20 years. That's an exciting high-class opportunity and we'll keep experimenting....
That rather ignores the fact that prices for TV and broadband services continue to soar despite a reduction in the cost of gear and bandwidth. As for the company's horrible customer satisfaction ratings, which Roberts has promised to fix for the last decade
? "We don’t wake up every day and go to work and say 'we want to be hated,'" said the CEO. Roberts also tried to argue
that Comcast is so disliked because "it's the company consumers have to deal with when other companies raise their prices."