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Aspen Dispatch: Inter-Platform Keynotes

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ASPEN, COLORADO, August 19 - It's not always cable vs telco at the Aspen Summit, but the two morning keynotes today featured leaders from Cox Communications and Verizon Communications. Both Patrick Esser and Richard Lynch spoke to the theme of the conference, unlocking innovation, and made the case for why each of their companies holds the key.

Mr. Esser introduced his keynote with an overview of the history of communications industries that Cox has been an innovator in, from newspapers, to radio, to broadcast television, to Cable, to broadband and now to converged consumer communications. The Cox president then submitted to the conference his opinion on the four keys to innovation: customer-driven technology solutions, strategic investments, reasonable public policies, and a healthy and competitive market place.

Esser championed Cox's reputation as a leader in customer service and innovation in its industry: "[Cox] pulled the regional bells, kicking and screaming, into broadband." And the company is continuing to invest in broadband innovations to the tune of $16 billion in the last 12 years, over which time their delivery speeds have increased 8-fold.

Cox's future innovations in broadband, according to Mr. Esser will include its Extendable Optical Network, which should provide a gig of capacity, as well as a focused on converged services including a last mile wireless mesh overlay that will enable enhanced mobile services for customers. Cox is out to capture the Millenial generation whom Mr. Esser assured the audience is fast-moving, mult-tasking, inpatient and more demanding of the customer service sector when it comes to their communications provider than any other generation.

Richard Lynch, Verizon's CTO, was the next keynote speaker and he reiterated many of Mr. Esser's points regarding innovation: "The keys to innovation are in the hands of entrepreneurs." According to Richard, his company continues to be an innovator with recent investments in the LTE standard for 4G communications, the explosive growth of FIOS, and the commitment to dynamic networks that are responsive to the bandwidth intensive services that are on the horizon.

In regards to public policy, Mr. Lynch encouraged policy makers to change their mind set and to "acknowledge the realities of a 100 megabit world." He was emphatic that "this world will depend on efficient network management techniques."

Verizon has developed a strategy for engaging the stakeholders who will be impacted by such techniques, particularly the users and producers of peer 2 peer (P2P) technologies: "rather than fighting against them, we're focused on making these technologies work better within the network."

Such cooperative solutions, according to Lynch, are the best approach to dealing with the issues arising as a result of network management of scarce bandwidth. He assured the audience that Verizon intends to be completely transparent in its practices, saying that "network management is the only pragmatic way to deliver the best service to the most customers...we need to make it very clear to anyone who wants to know our packet prioritization scheme."

Implying that new pricing structures may be another scheme that are called for in this new, network managed environment, Mr. Lynch said that "if you as a customer want to get better service for more money...I should be able to get you that.

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