An interesting thread linked the Goldman Sachs conference appearances of Time Warner Cable pres/CEO Glenn Britt , Comcast COO Steve Burke and DirecTV pres/CEO Chase Carey : candor. Specifically, they said competition is weighing more heavily on their respective companies than the struggling economy. Burke admitted that Verizon ‘s entry into 5% of its footprint has led to customer defections, although primarily analog subs. “I do think competition is going to get worse, not better,” he said. Britt cited some success by Verizon and AT&T , particularly in troubled markets Dallas and L.A., but maintained that DirecTV and EchoStar pose the greatest challenge. Carey, meanwhile, said cable competition has become a “force,” and that DirecTV must work on customer retention. He also said most defectors to cable are more often lured by price than service bundles. But Carey said the satcaster is “moving to where we sell [more] bundles” than those offered by partners such as Qwest and AT&T. In addition to DirecTV’s HD push, Carey said its VOD service (by YE) will also be key. “It’s a much more user friendly experience [than cable VOD], much more than ‘here are 10K things, now go find it’,” said Carey. Britt took his own shot at DBS ops, saying he’s not sure how EchoStar and particularly DirecTV will deliver on their HD channel promises. “I don’t see it as a sustainable advantage,” said Britt of HD capacity. “Our signals are better, and we don’t charge customers more for HD.” Meanwhile, Burke shrugged off the HSD market’s slowdown, arguing that phone, commercial services and interactive advertising will pick up the slack through ’11 and beyond. “I don’t see the [RGU additions] train slowing down in ’08 and ’09,” he said.