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Summary:

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt who took the job in 2001 will retire at the end of 2013 and hand over the chief executive gig to Rob Marcus. Perhaps this will open possibility of a merger with John Malone.

Time Warner Cable, which is often in head-to-head combat with smaller cable companies like Charter Communications for being the worst cable broadband provider, has some non-customer gouging news: Glenn Britt, its longtime chief executive, is leaving the company at the end of the year and will hand over the top job to Rob Marcus, who has been the president and COO of the company since 2010. Britt, 64, started as CEO in 2001.

Time Warner Cable has 12.2 million TV subscribers and has 11.4 million broadband subscribers. The company had revenue of $21 billion last year. Britt, in an interview with The New York Times, said that it still “early innings for broadband.”

Loosely translated, that means that Time Warner Cable is going to aggressively meter bandwidth and is going to nickel-and-dime its customers much like they do for cable television. He has and still remains a doubter when it comes to cord-cutting. Britt told the Times:

“I think there is one thing we don’t know. That is whether the young generation now, called the millennials, are going to behave differently than all the generations before them.”

He also remains highly skeptical (thanks to some strong arm tactics of cable companies) of the chances of companies like Intel and Google who are starting rivals to cable companies.

Of the possibility that Intel, Google or another technology company will come into the marketplace and sell a bundle of cable channels via the Internet, Mr. Britt said, “It’s not clear to me that you could make very much money going that route, and maybe not any money.” New entrants to the market would not receive better rates for programming than established companies, he said, noting that if “everybody” watched television via the Internet instead of through cable systems, “then we would have to recover more money from the Internet service” by raising prices.

His comments reflect the throwback, recursive and regressive cable-TV-and-phone company thinking that has plagued our broadband masters and actually worries me more than anything else. As we have often noted, Time Warner Cable has been very aggressive in pushing metered broadband agenda and has been slow to upgrade its networks. Ask a New Yorker about their broadband, and they will make you sit down, get you a beer and tell their story.

Britt’s retirement opens up another possibility — a merger with John Malone’s Charter Communications to create a gigantic rival to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that your high-speed broadband will actually deliver high speeds.

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  1. Barry Schuler Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Glen is an excellent executive who has served TWC well. They have been clear since 2001 that they will use data pricing as a tool to impede the “over-the-top” strategy and maintaing a grip on premium content. Much to the chagrin of consumers, telecom/cable provider can exercise this leverage unless the FCC intermediates.

    But all is not lost. There is a reason Google is building out high-speed fiber delivery at an accelerating pace. A legitimate competitor in the space whose business has a far more diversified revenue base just might be a game changer.

  2. Ralph Haygood Thursday, July 25, 2013

    “Your network speeds will still suck.” Mercifully, not mine, not anymore. Last month, after years of pain with Time Warner cable, I switched to Frontier DSL, which recently became available where I live, and it’s a tremendous improvement. Peak speeds are lower, but it’s much steadier. I can now watch streaming videos that were hopeless with Time Warner. And I’m paying $12 a month *less*. (Honestly – I’m a real person, not a shill for Frontier.)

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