Broadband’s Don Corleone: Brian Roberts

Cable guys don’t get much respect, forget love. However there is one man who is quietly getting all the admiration: Brian Roberts, the chief executive officer of Comcast, the cablezilla that is now the largest cable and broadband services provider in the United States. Denver Post has a very flattering article on the guy in the Sunday edition.

Its a study in contrasts between John Malone, the man who led TCI (which later became AT&T Broadband and eventually Comcast) and Brian Roberts. Where Malone was bare knuckles and brash, Roberts is understated and does his fighting in private.

bq. “(Malone) has a different style,” Roberts said Friday during a visit to Denver to mark the first anniversary of Comcast’s $52 billion acquisition of AT&T Broadband. “There was a time when everybody needed to know what John thought in this industry.”

Roberts’ however puts a big question mark on cable telephony in the article.

bq. Another business that hinges on Comcast’s influence: phone service over cable lines. Comcast provides the service to 1.3 million customers, a business built by AT&T’s costs-be-damned effort to create and dominate the market. Comcast chose to slam the brakes on that business, deeming AT&T’s focus on older, circuit-switch technology to be too expensive. Instead, Comcast is focusing its efforts on its traditional cable TV business and newer cable Internet services while it loses phone customers by the tens of thousands each quarter.

It seems the company going to be backing VoIP or internet telephony next year. It might be not such a good idea for this is the time to seize the initiative from Baby Bells. But Brian Roberts moves in mysterious ways, and we shall keep an eye on him.