Chicago — Cox Communications President Pat Esser did his best Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran impression Tuesday here at the Globalcomm show, unsettling and softening up the overwhelmingly telco audience with confident taunts before launching a flurry of stinging jabs.
Esser opened his keynote speech bragging about Cox’s entrepreneurship, about how Cox borrowed $15 billion to build a high-speed network with no guarantee of a return, how it got into telephony 10 years ago, and is now among the top 10 phone providers in the U.S., and that now half of its nearly $7 billion in revenue comes from services other than video.
Esser noted that later this year, Cox will debut a branded wireless service in conjunction with Sprint Nextel.
He said Cox succeeds because it provides excellent service, despite competition in every service it provides. Then Esser started swinging. “Cable hasn’t had a monopoly since DirecTV launched in 1994,” he said, “so the RBOCs’ claims that they’re bringing competition to the video marketplace are laughable.”
Esser said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 – the same act that allowed cable operators to get into the telephony market – also allowed phone companies to get into the video market.
“Did they forge ahead? Upgrade their networks? Ready the back office? And roll out new services? No. A decade later, the road is littered with aspirational Bell press releases promising a fiber optic utopia that doesn’t exist. Instead, their legions of lobbyists beat a path to Congress, state legislators and PUCs seeking regulatory roadblocks, sweetheart deals and short cuts to coast into the video business.”
Esser said Cox and the rest of the cable industry would welcome a truly level playing field where everyone plays by the same rules – provided they really are the same rules, applicable to everyone evenly and immediately – not new rules aimed at creating competition in a situation where competition already exists.