PFF Releases Comcast CEO's Remarks from Sept 21st Luncheon
WASHINGTON D.C. - Policymakers should promote facilities-based competition when drafting a Telecommunications Act update, stated Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in remarks presented at a CEO Luncheon organized by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. In his speech, Roberts also urged policymakers to do more to promote voice competition by eliminating unnecessary barriers and regulation. Today, PFF is releasing the text of Roberts' prepared remarks to compliment the webcast available on the PFF website.
Roberts began his remarks with a brief overview of the 1992 Cable Act, which re-regulated much of the cable industry. The re-regulation, which caused a dramatic slowdown in investment, led the cable industry to request two goals for policymakers when drafting the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Roberts explained, "First, we urged Congress to promote 'facilities-based competition' as the paramount public policy goal -- because only by getting new facilities into the marketplace could you break the phone company bottleneck. And second, we asked to be freed up from the worst aspects of the '92 Act so we could invest in those new facilities."
Roberts concluded the new investment in broadband, spurred by the deregulation of the cable industry, brought about new services and a changing industry landscape. "Each of these new services, all of this new competition, are really the product of the incredible -- and incredibly complex -- digital transition of communications in America and the world. The pace of change has never been faster -- and it's really hard to sync up public policy with such dynamically changing technology."
Roberts called on policymakers to focus on voice competition while considering an update of the 1996 Telecom Act, citing a new study that indicates projected consumer savings from more voice competition are several times what would flow from more video competition. In order to initiate new investment and competition in the voice sector, Roberts identified four areas of concentration for officials and regulators:
- The right to interconnect "at cost-based rates, and without delays or degradation," regardless of technology used
- Fair transit costs and intercarrier compensation
- Clearly defined social obligations, such as 911 service, which are competitively neutral
- Discussion and coordination between federal and state regulators regarding "how, where and to what extent [cable companies] and the phone companies should be regulated in the future.
Robert's address was followed by a question and answer session with three financial analysts. The entire program, including remarks from Senator Ted Stevens, can be viewed via webcast on the PFF website.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.