Comcast President Brian L. Roberts Testifies About Benefits of Comcast-AT&T Broadband Merger Before U.S. Senate Subcommittee
Comcast President Brian L. Roberts today told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Business and Consumer Rights that Comcast's proposed merger with AT&T Broadband will benefit American consumers.
In his testimony before the subcommittee this afternoon, Mr. Roberts explained that the combined company will draw on the unique skills and strengths of the two existing businesses. The new company will be able to expand the range of information and entertainment services available to many consumers and provide those choices more quickly.
"This merger will bring more digital services and features, to more Americans, more quickly," Mr. Roberts said. "We want to make our new company a true industry leader, in every sense. We are committed to serve our local communities, both as quality communications service providers and as good corporate citizens."
Mr. Roberts said that the merger will:
AT&T and Comcast announced on December 19 that the companies have agreed to combine AT&T Broadband with Comcast, creating the world's pre-eminent broadband services company.
The new entity, which will be called AT&T Comcast Corporation, will have approximately 22 million subscribers and a major presence in 17 of the United States' 20 largest metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, and San Francisco-Oakland.
About Comcast Cable
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast Corporation (www.comcast.com), a developer, manager and operator of broadband cable networks and provider of programming content. Comcast Cable is the third largest cable company in the United States. Providing basic cable, digital cable and high speed Internet services, Comcast Cable is the company to look to first for the communications products and services that connect people to what's important in their lives. The company's approximately 18,000 cable division employees serve more than 8.4 million customers in six geographic regions.
OPENING STATEMENT OF COMCAST CORPORATION PRESIDENT BRIAN L. ROBERTS
AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON ANTITRUST, COMPETITION AND BUSINESS AND CONSUMER RIGHTS
TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2002
Chairman Kohl, Ranking Member DeWine, members of the Subcommittee:
On behalf of my father Ralph - who is seated just behind me - and myself, I am honored to be here today to talk about our vision of what the merger of Comcast and AT&T Broadband will mean for American consumers.
Let me also thank Senator Specter for that gracious introduction.
Because this is my first time before this Subcommittee, I'd like to tell you a little bit about Comcast... our roots, and the kind of company we are.
Comcast was founded in 1969 by my father. I think our company represents what is great about family business in America - the opportunity to chase a dream. Ralph is a true entrepreneur, and he is always forward-looking. That's reflected in the name he coined for his new company, "Comcast" - a combination of "communications" and "broadcasting." I can't think of a more concise summary of our vision.
My father and I love the cable business. It's in our blood. We've had the chance to work together, side-by-side, during cable's greatest era. We have seen - and been a part of - the terrific things that cable has brought to this nation.
We've always been enthusiastic about the even greater potential of cable technology. Our company was one of the first to experiment with cable modems - delivering high-speed Internet over cable - and one of the first to deploy them. We set the pace in rolling out digital cable - over 250 channels of TV and audio programming. Now we are introducing high-definition television... and video-on-demand, that lets viewers watch what they want when they want it. And we think there are many other great services that cable can deliver... like home networking and home security.
This is why I am so excited about our proposed merger with AT&T Broadband. In all the decades that we have been in this industry, we have never seen another business opportunity that is as exciting for our customers, our employees and our shareholders.
There is a lot of talk in Washington about making sure that the benefits of broadband reach all Americans, and much discussion of what the government can do. This merger presents a private-sector response to that question.
By uniting two companies with remarkably complementary assets, this merger will bring more digital services and features, to more Americans, more quickly.
Let me explain why.
Comcast has substantially completed the upgrades to our cable systems necessary to offer broadband services. Nearly 95% of our systems are built to current industry standards. Comcast also has a strong balance sheet, among the very best in the industry. And our business - first and foremost - has been and will remain cable.
By contrast, a greater number of AT&T Broadband's systems still require substantial additional investment to get them up to current standards. Of course, AT&T has been in a number of different businesses up until now, all of them competing for scarce capital. And, in the face of external financial pressures, they haven't completed system upgrades as quickly as Comcast did.
This merger will give the combined company a clear focus, a solid balance sheet and strong borrowing capacity. The combined company will have greater economies of scale and scope. It will find cost savings in several key areas, which will help to finance system upgrades and speed up the introduction of new services, including video, Internet and cable telephone services.
I have not mentioned telephone services until now. Frankly, we at Comcast have been slow to introduce cable-based phone services. We have been very focused on next-generation phone, so-called "Internet Protocol" or "IP" telephony, which we believe can offer more features at a lower cost.
However, the more I spoke with Mike Armstrong about AT&T Broadband's phone business, the better the opportunities looked. We can take advantage of AT&T Broadband's considerable expertise and experience in providing circuit-switched phone over cable. That will let us give millions more customers a true choice between facilities-based telephone providers. Mike will speak more about these opportunities in a moment.
You've heard me use the term "facilities-based" a couple of times. Promoting facilities-based competition - telephone against cable, cable against satellite, satellite against wireless - was one of the cornerstones of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. I think it is a great achievement that the Act has encouraged investment in new services by all of these competitors. Our industry certainly got the message. In the past six years, we've invested over 55 billion dollars to upgrade our systems for the digital era... Comcast alone has invested over five billion dollars.
Fortunately, this merger will promote that kind of competition.
Whether we are talking about video, Internet or telephone service, we can't do the job alone. We will work - as we always have - with other entrepreneurs, other innovators, whose help we'll need to bring new ideas to market. We are open to working with partners large and small - including programmers, equipment vendors, software developers, and others - for one simple reason: we need to make our big new investment work.
So let me make the fundamental case for this merger. What specifically will it mean for American consumers?
It will mean that millions more Americans will have broadband sooner.
It will speed up the introduction of digital cable, high-speed cable Internet, and lots of other innovative services still on the drawing board.
It will bring facilities-based telephone competition to millions more homes.
It will allow us to expand investment in improved local and regional programming.
And it will permit us to expand our strong commitment to improving our local communities by innovative use of our technologies.
This merger will make all of these things possible... while not reducing competition in any relevant market.
Chairman Kohl, Senator DeWine, I could not be more proud of what the cable industry - and Comcast - have brought to America. We have joined with our industry colleagues to underwrite C-SPAN's three national public affairs TV networks, giving every American a ringside seat on our legislative process. We deliver the full spectrum of news and opinion, any time, anywhere. We have made important contributions to education and to stronger communities.
With our new company, joining Comcast and AT&T Broadband, we have the chance to do so much more. We want to make our new company a true industry leader, in every sense. We are committed to serve our local communities, both as quality communications service providers and as good corporate citizens.
I thank you for the opportunity to appear here today, and I look forward to your questions.