Liberty Global’s Fries renews consolidation call

Mike Fries, president and CEO of cable MSO Liberty Global, has reiterated his call for industry consolidation better to compete with global players.

Fries’ refrain, regularly expressed at industry events such as ANGA COM, was aired during an interview on CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he also shared his thoughts on the Net Neutrality debate in the US and Europe.

According to Fries, the US is trending towards Title II, 1934 Act. “I don’t think personally makes any sense; fortunately for me I don’t operate in that market. I think European regulators have been much more sensible, much more practical about how to do this. They see the benefits of specialised services in some instances, at Davos here has been talking about driverless cars and all these great applications, digitising industry,” he reported.

According to Fries, that would be hard to do on a ‘Best Efforts’ Internet where everybody is competing for bandwidth. “So, the idea that certain applications and certain services shouldn’t have some kind of priority is kind of silly and I think the second point is that for Reed [Hastings] there’s a B2C and B2B component to net neutrality,” he suggested, adding that no Internet service provider is ever going to block sites or degrade services or prevent consumers from doing what they want.

As for consolidation in the media space, Fries said it was good for industry, “I think it’s smart. We need scale and the cable industry, we are competing with Google and Netflix; these hyper giants that have global scale and we are Balkanised in certain cities and certain markets, it’s silly,” he asserted.

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