F2C12: Susan Crawford


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Freedom to Connect 2012 speaker Susan Crawford, on Captive Audience. The video presentation is here:

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F2C12: Susan Crawford

  1. 1. Captive Audience Nov. 2012 Yale University Press @scrawford
  2. 2. It’s the Baby Boomers’ Fault • They got bored • We got libertarianism • Now the stakes are really high • because the phone system is going away • [think banking]
  3. 3. Right now • a third of Americans don’t have landlines • industry doesn’t want to sell phone service • four states have already removed requirement to provide residential landlines – six more coming • water, electricity, and telecommunications
  4. 4. What’s basic? • Imagine the upsides of the phone system – new ways of making a living – increasing positive returns to scale – competition – a globally-standard communications system – personal and commercial freedom – free flow of information (low transaction costs) – (plus limited liability for the carriers) • Imagine giving up on that very successful +100yrs – now the basic network is fiber Internet access
  5. 5. What’s the social contract? • Everything has a cost, nothing has value • “I’d never take the subway” • Imagine America without the interstate highway system • Imagine America without clean water • Imagine America without a reliable commodity banking system
  6. 6. The Looming Cable Monopoly and the Wireless Duopoly • Advantages of scale and scope – “pricing power” • ARPU up, revenue up, all arrows pointing the right direction, no competition • And now VZ and TWC/Comcast collaborating: Dec. 2011 – “you take wired, I’ll take wireless” • Meanwhile, 1/3 of Americans don’t have high- speed Internet access • My interview with David Cohen
  7. 7. $50 $60 $70 $80 $90 $100 $110 $120 $130 $140 $150 1Q02 1Q03 1Q04 1Q05 1Q06 1Q07 1Q08 1Q09 1Q10 1Q11 1Q12 Comcast Avg. Revenue Per Video (Includes HSI) Customer Comcast – Ongoing Increases in Bundle Penetration as Costs Go Down
  8. 8. -6.0% -5.5% -5.0% -4.5% -4.0% -3.5% -3.0% -2.5% -2.0% -1.5% -1.0% -0.5% 0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% 2.5% 3.0% 1Q10 2Q10 3Q10 4Q10 1Q11 2Q11 3Q11 4Q11 1Q12 Quarterly Percent Change in Broadband Subscribers Comcast Time Warner Cable AT&T Total AT&T DSL Verizon Total Verizon DSL Steady gains for cable Steady and steep losses for DSL
  9. 9. AT&T DSL and VZ DSL shares going to cable - 1Q10 to 1Q12 • Comcast: 16.3M to 18.5M – up 14% • TWC: 9.2M to 10.7M – up 10% • AT&T DSL: 13.6M to 10.6M – down 22% • VZ DSL: 4.7M to 3.7M – down 21% • FiOS 1Q12: 5M • U-Verse 1Q12: 5.9M
  10. 10. It’s Good To Be Comcast • Comcast 1Q12 high-speed Internet revenue up 10.3% from prior quarter. ARPU up 4% from prior quarter. • 86% of AT&T DSL customers have speeds slower than 6Mbps • At year end 2011, 38% of AT&T DSL customers had speeds slower than 3 Mbps
  11. 11. Goldman Sachs Asks a Question Q1 2012 Comcast Earnings Call • Jason Armstrong – Goldman Sachs & Co.: “Just a question on broadband, there’s a fear more broadly that we’re nearing saturation from an industry perspective. Your results obviously don’t suggest that. You’re accelerating growth in net adds in the business. Maybe just help us think through the outlook and how you think about balancing volume growth versus the pricing power that you probably could exercise to a greater extent here. Thanks.” • Neil Smit – Comcast Cable Communications LLC: “Hi, Jason. I think that we were very pleased with the quarter at 439,000 net adds. And as you said, we continue to drive strong growth quarter after quarter. I think it’s fundamentally because we feel we have a better product where we continue to increase speeds on top of our DOCSIS platform. I think there’s always a balance between rate and volume. We think we’ve met that balance pretty well. We increased ARPU 4% this quarter in HSD and drove that sort of growth. So we feel there’s still some pricing power as long as we’re continuing to improve the product and meet the customer demand.”
  12. 12. Margins: The Two Monopolies Do Well • Operating cash flow margins for Comcast and wireless units of VZ and AT&T are high 30s to low 40s as a percent of revenue • Subtract capex from operating cash flow – Free Cash Flow – Comcast’s FCF margin is 30%, as is VZ Wireless • Wireline margins for VZ and AT&T are low 30s AT&T and low 20s VZ
  13. 13. VZ doing slightly better on wireline than AT&T because • VZ sold off much of its least-competitive copper plant, so a lower percentage of those lines in its total mix – watch those Tier 2 providers! • VZ: All you need is an iPad and 4G • FiOS is a better service than DOCSIS 3.0 – much more competitive than U-Verse FTTN – but only in 15% of Comcast territory, 11% of TWC – 50% of Cablevision – and not expanding
  14. 14. Where’s the Money Going? • Subtract capex from operating cash flow – Free Cash Flow – Comcast’s FCF margin is 30%, as is VZ Wireless • Comcast is spending more than 30% of FCF on “return of capital to shareholders” (dividends and buybacks). Telcos spend 40%. • Dividends as percentage of revenues: Comcast 11% 1Q12; AT&T 8.2% 1Q12; VZ 5% (full year 2011). • Rather than expand, they’re propping up share prices and extracting more money from consumers. • where consolidation is possible, competition is impossible
  15. 15. • High margins being plowed into supporting share prices (dividends, buybacks) • What about the 99%? • What happened to commercial and personal freedom? affordable basic services for everyone?
  16. 16. Five Big Myths • 5. Unleashing wireless solves everything. • 4. Look at all these cool new devices and apps! • 3. You’re a socialist/Marxist/radical/crazy person. • 2. No one really needs a gig. • 1. It’s too expensive – we can’t do anything.
  17. 17. Consumer Top 10) • 10. I just got back from Amsterdam/Tokyo/Seoul.. • 9. I feel like no one cares about us out here in the country/in this city. • 8. The service on my landline phone is awful and it doesn’t feel worth it. But if I cancel what will take its place? • 7. I can only afford cell service. How do I apply for a job? • 6. The library is so crowded it’s awful.
  18. 18. Consumer Top 10 (cont.) • 5. I can’t tell what these guys are charging me for but it keeps getting more expensive. • 4. Why can’t I watch sports without paying $150/month? • 3. Why can’t I use my new 4G iPad? • 2. What happened to basic services in America? • 1. Why is our country so unequal?
  19. 19. What needs to happen (without Congress) • Public outrage • Support for muni networks • Reclassification of high-speed Internet access • Changed perspective: It’s not the magic of technology that wins out. It’s policy that ensures that technology lives at all. Rules made the Internet possible in the first place.
  20. 20. Just three steps • treat access like a utility, require last miles to be shared • subsidize big fiber pipes where there are inadequate links to internet exchange points • support municipal networks
  21. 21. Attention Must Be Paid • Better graphics • Better news coverage • Better numbers • Better consumer stories • More movies • Phalanx of credible economists • An election issue in each Congressional district • Australia becomes relevant • Cheap fiber access will transform our economy, drive future growth and productivity, lead to new innovative health services and help our children get the best education in the world.
  22. 22. favorite quotes • Cable exec: “That would be so disruptive.” • Ivan Seidenberg: “America has a very good broadband story; someone just has to be willing to tell it.”
  23. 23. Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO March 3, 2011 • “So if you think about Comcast, I believe that the best business we may well be in is our broadband business. And so one of the strategies the last several years was to be -- to invest in DOCSIS 3.0, and to make our broadband business the best on the planet. And we're going to continue that strategy.” • “And so each of the last two years, we have had modest increases in the cost of the broadband service, and yet we've had tremendous sales. We're 33%, 31% penetrated. We hope someday all of America has broadband. So the goal would be 100 or 90. We have one competitor.” • “And as more and more applications require bandwidth, as the bits per home go up, the bet we're making and the bet you're making, if you own us, is that over the next 10 years, people will want more bits in their house over a wire than ever before. And whether that is called Xbox Live, whether that is Skype, whether that is Netflix, whether that is Comcast, Xfinity, streaming, whether that is some kid in the garage inventing an application that we all wish we'd thought of, Facebook Junior, next Google -- I like that position.”
  24. 24. in sum • like the private firefighter • it’s “not excludable” – such large spillovers to everyone • the market won’t provide – and the market won’t function without it • end of landline phones ...