When NCTA president/CEO Michael Powell speaks, you can count on there being several quotables. His appearance at NCTC and ACA’s Independent Show Tuesday morning was no exception, as he touched on everything from consolidation to net neutrality. Here are some of the highlights from his conversation on stage with Eagle Communications CEO Gary Shorman.

Where the Industry is Headed
“One thing our industry is going to see is the end of speed. What I mean by that is we have been selling and talking Internet as speed tiers for two decades. I think we’re going to get to a point where it’s fast enough for everything anyone does. … As we get toward gigabit speed, I think we’re going to be in a world where that flattens out. I think that’s going to be an interesting inflection point for the industry. I think we’ll see more ways for consumers to consume more product and innovative devices.”

The New FCC Chairman
“I don’t think we could be any better served by Ajit Pai. He is a brilliant and rigorous lawyer. I have enormous respect for his legal acumen. He has a massively thoughtful and rigorous understanding of the complexities of statute, both its strengths and its weaknesses. He has a kind temperament, a caring, listening ear, which you can’t emphasize enough.”

Net Neutrality
“I’ve never understood why this argument of net neutrality has so much traction when you think about how would a cable operator really do this. I’m going to slow down the user experience of consumers to a perceptible degree because if it’s not perceptible I can’t charge for the fast lane. I am going to have to re-engineer the network to do deep packet inspection to be able to sort bits for the ones who paid and ones who didn’t. And then if I do that, I have to be sure that the super smart tech wizards of Silicon Valley don’t learn how to circumvent that system at the drop of a dime, which I assure you they will… I don’t think there’s any meaningful scheme or business model that would be profitable to engage in the behavior we’re alleged to be itching to do.”

Broadband Infrastructure
“There may be three or four critical infrastructures in this country. Three or four of them are completely crumbling into the ground. Road and transportation systems are a disaster. Bridges and roads in the United States are falling down. The water and sewage system breaks and cracks on a regular basis. The electric grid is sort of rickety, on its last legs. The president says we need to spend a trillion dollars to repair those infrastructures. The American Society of Engineers gives all those infrastructures a D grade in the United States. There’s one critical infrastructure in this country that’s thriving. One critical infrastructure that attracts $30 billion of investment a year. One infrastructure in this country that’s done over a trillion dollars in a decade. One infrastructure in this country that mostly doesn’t go down. One infrastructure in this country that’s proving robust and innovates and grows and has maintained prices relatively flat. That’s the broadband innovation infrastructure of the United States. And it’s the only one that hasn’t been regulated by common carrier, public utility infrastructure.”

Consolidation
“There’s a pretty serious dialogue going on in policy circles and antitrust circles about concentration, and a really rising level of anxiety that maybe too much concentration across the economy has been allowed. That there hasn’t been a sufficient distribution of economic power. That both Republicans and Democrats alike have gotten into a kind of a light pro-business, ‘if there aren’t price effects, if it doesn’t hurt consumers, it’s fine .’ I’m not offering an opinion on the right or wrongness of that thinking or scholarship, but I think it’s beginning to take hold politically. … Maybe there’s a pendulum swing coming. I think it’s easier to talk about than to do, so we’ll see how far real implementation of these concepts go. But I think if you’re anyone out there thinking of a big merger today, your anxiety level is rising that you might not get this done or that there may be a coming slamming of the brakes on some of the bigger ones. We don’t know. The Democrats to execute that have to have the presidency, which they’re not going to have for three and a half years if then. So it’s hard to know where it’s going.”

The Climate in Washington Today
“It’s really chaotic in a disconcerting way. If you sit in your office all day, things happen and change like hourly. … There is just this lack of stability and extraordinary chaos that seems to wash, rinse and repeat every single day. There’s a whole floor of permanent anxiety about what’s happening and what’s happening next. There’s no sense of reliability.”

The Daily

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