LOS ANGELES--Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) pending $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) was prevalent in nearly every conversation at The Cable Show here, including the opening session where four of the industry's top executives weighed in on the deal.
Cable CEOs at Wednesday's general session. From left: Jon Fortt, on-air editor, CNBC; Matt Blank, Chairman-CEO, Showtime Networks; Brian Roberts, Chairman-CEO, Comcast; Tom Rutledge, President-CEO, Charter; and Bob Stanzione, Chairman-CEO, Arris. (Photo courtesy of The Cable Show)
"It's a great deal for Comcast and a smaller one from Comcast's perspective, but both companies will serve customers in a dynamically positive way," said Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR). Rutledge initially opposed the deal, because it would give Comcast nearly 40 percent of the broadband market and 33 million TV subscribers.
For Comcast, according to Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, the deal means a net addition of 7 million customers. "When you net it out, we're buying 7 million customers. We're trying to give the industry the chance for a better footprint."
Beyond Comcast's pending acquisition, the other hot-button topic at top of mind was cable's exploding Wi-Fi footprint. Comcast's Roberts admitted that Wi-Fi is a big asset for the industry, noting that close to 75 percent of the bits over the wireless networks in the next 24 months will be over Wi-Fi. "It's a new world and it expects Wi-Fi. It's a huge asset for the industry."
Stanzione agreed. "Wi-Fi is looming now across the country and Wi-Fi assurance is a growing field to improve customer experiences and control in the home."
Regarding DOCSIS 3.1, which has been rebranded as Gigasphere, the cable execs noted the huge investment the industry is making in this new technology that promises faster speeds and bigger bandwidth. "The industry is investing in DOCSIS 3.1 and we're investing $500 million, so it's an enormous investment and the industry has to allocate the bandwidth. The chip vendors are also investing a lot," said Bob Stanzione, chairman and CEO of Arris.
Investing in new technologies is paramount, said Matt Blank, chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks. "There will always be a new technology and part of that means accepting all the technology changes. We just want to stay ahead of the technology and take advantage of it. That is critical for us."
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