Cox Chief Promises Wireless
In a quick and pointed second-day keynote speech, the cable giant president thanked the telecom industry for letting a cable guy have his say, and he didn't mince words.
"Some people thought we were crazy when we entered the telephone business," said Esser, who joined Cox in 1979. "Who would buy telecom service from a cable company?... Even our cable brethren were reluctant.
"In less than 10 years, we've become the nation's tenth largest phone company. And nearly 7 out of 10 consumers in our market choose Cox Internet over DSL."
More than half of Cox's revenue comes from non-video services, Esser said.
On that note, he said Cox plans to further its footprint in telecom. By the end of the year, the company will launched a Cox-branded wireless service through the company's recent partnership with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). (See Sprint Nextel, MSOs Unite.)
"We'll have it with tiered data services," he said, meaning that customers who need to download large video streams will pay more than those who only need access to email and Web browsing.
Esser scoffed at the idea that cable companies have had an unfair advantage since the passage of the controversial 1996 Telecommunications Act, which eased regulations on the cable providers.
"We haven't been a monopoly since DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) launched satellite services in 1994. What troubles me most are the competitive battles over the rules of the game being waged in Washington.
"The same path that let the cable companies enter the phone business also provided a roadmap for the Bells to enter the video business," he noted, going on to deride "aspirational Bell press releases promising... [video] services that don't exist.
"The Bells are finally peeking out from behind their press releases. They need video to stay in this game.
"I'm all for a less cumbersome streamlined franchise process," he said. "If Verizon, AT&T, and others want video franchises, they should be granted, the same as cable."
— Carmen Nobel, Senior Editor, Light Reading