The Gallery: Time Warner says customers don’t want fast internet – customers beg to differ

state house gallery

By: Blair Levin, Gig.U

Gig.U Executive Director, (and former National Broadband Plan chief) Blair Levin, highlights comments made by Time Warner Cable CFO Irene Esteves at the Morgan Stanley Technology. When asked if Time Warner would respond to Google Fiber’s ultrafast speeds in Kansas City, she responded: “We’re in the business of delivering what consumers want, and to stay a little ahead of what we think they will want. We just don’t see the need of delivering that to consumers.” We have a different view about what will spark innovation in American communities. So does Tom Friedman, Susan Crawford and the Chairman of the FCC. So do, apparently, Time Warner’s customers; it seems TWC may be out of touch.

As these next generation speeds are only offered in a few places in the United States, it is difficult to estimate consumer demand at this time, but as noted in the National Broadband Plan and most recently by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, it is critical for this country to have a critical mass of communities with world-leading bandwidth.

Furthermore, we know from our many discussions with city officials and universities, that having world-leading next generation networks is a big plus in attracting economic development activity that relies on removing bandwidth as a constraint on innovation.

As we have focused on the innovation and economic development issues, we have been less focused on the mass-market questions. For that reason we found it fascinating that the CFO’s comments catalyzed a large and consistent stream of passionate commentary that suggested, to put it mildly, that she is wrong. We don’t offer it as a statistical proof point but as interesting focus group and so, for the sake of others interested in this discussion, we have assembled the comments here.

GIG.U is a group of leading research universities, in partnership with their local communities, which are working toward accelerating the offering of ultra high-speed network services to their communities.

The Gallery is a forum for ideas and examination of matters facing state and local government. Readers, members of the media, academics or the business community are invited to submit guest columns to bailey{at}civsourceonline{dot}com. Member of the public sector? We’re interested in hearing from you too. CivSource does not endorse the views presented in The Gallery, but offers them in an effort to present more diverse coverage. CivSource will review all submissions but does not guarantee publication of all works submitted.