Stephanie Mehta of Fortune Magazine put some tough questions (from Fortune readers) to Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA). He gave refreshingly honest answers for a CEO. His stock is out of favor with Wall Street, but it is good to know that the most […]

Stephanie Mehta of Fortune Magazine put some tough questions (from Fortune readers) to Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA). He gave refreshingly honest answers for a CEO. His stock is out of favor with Wall Street, but it is good to know that the most powerful man in cable (I didn’t say most liked man!) is not suffering from the denial-disease.

On Competition from telcos and satellite companies.

A majority of homes now have broadband. There’s growth, but it will be slower growth. What I hope we will prove with subsequent performance is that we have new products…. We face competition from satellite companies, phone companies, and other cable overbuilders, and that’s forced us to become a better company.

On Online Video

Content on the Internet appears more like an opportunity than a threat. It will cause many people to switch from DSL to the faster cable broadband because video-rich content works better on cable modem. Some 60% of our broadband sales this quarter came from people [leaving] DSL. I think that’s a result of customers wanting to watch more video.

On Falling Stock Price

We’re having the second-best year in our history in terms of growth in new products. We grew 100% last year, and we’re on pace to grow another 30% this year in new products. We’re disappointed that growth wasn’t even faster, but we’re pleased that for every customer we lost in cable, we gained ten telephone customers.

On Even Faster Connections

At the national cable convention this year I demonstrated a technology called DOCSIS 3.0. We’ll start rolling this out in 2008. It provides up to 160 megabits or more of speed per second.

I have already said my piece. Let see if he can deliver.

His answer about customer service was lame, and that is a much bigger problem than competition from phone and satellite companies. I was surprised to find out that he admires both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, for different reasons, of course.

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  1. Interesting. I’ve never heard that a cable modem was superior to DSL. Does anyone know the technical reason for such an arguement?

  2. Rick, I think the superiority lies with fibre over copper.

    As for CSR’s – the Comcast flavor truly are abysmal. As for speed, overdue – and the excuses are lame and outright lies. Comcast is being pushed, kicking and screaming, into offering what the rest of the world considers “usual”.

    Just like our “adventurous” cellphone companies.

    Fear of competition produces nothing like real backbone and leadership. But, that’s all that motivates footdraggers like Comcrap.

  3. If my most recent experience with Comcast is any indication, the company is staffed by certified morons. When I moved in early September, it took a full month (and innumerable phone calls) to get Comcast to complete the transfer of account information to the new service address. Never in my life have I been so appalled at the sheer incompetence of practically everyone I spoke to about this matter. Truly unbelievable!

  4. @Rik: It doesn’t require a phone line, you don’t have to login to anything and it’s faster. The only people I know who get DSL are willing to have a slower connection for the little bit of money they save (or they still have landlines and want it all on 1 bill).

    The biggest problem with Comcast is their customer service (or lack of). I cringe every time I have to call them. I get better customer service from other companies who have guys in India that I can’t understand.

  5. Comcast cost me an arm and a leg. I use office internet to stay connected and it saves me 1200.00 a year or more.

  6. Comcast: Pissing Cable & Internet customers off since 1963.

  7. In Brian’s defense, his customer service is the best in the cable industry. Sure that’s like saying a turd is the least stinky, but it’s all about perspective.

    Anyway, how come nobody asked him why he doesn’t fire Ed Snider? The Sixers may well have the lowest wins/payroll dollar (counting coaches) in the NBA under his tenure — yes, even worse than the Knicks — and the Flyers aren’t really that much better.

  8. No mention of internet television. Interesting.


  9. Roberts on Comcast « Connected Home 2 Go Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    [...] No Comments Stephanie Mehta at Fortune recently interviewed Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Om Malik posted a follow-up breaking the interview down into categories of questions with summaries of Roberts’ answers. Here [...]

  10. I’m not sure if this is nationwide or not, but on our local news last night they said Comcast is about to raise cable TV rates 4%. Luckily I have DirecTV so it doesn’t affect me, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cable internet price hike around the corner.

    @bootgun: How does it save you $1200 or more a year? Cable internet here is between $50 and $60 a month which is nowhere near that figure.

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