tv ATT CEO Stephenson at DC Economic Club CSPAN March 20, 2019 10:30pm-11:25pm EDT
-- studentcam documentary online at studentcam.org. announcer: now, a conversation with the at&t ceo, randall stephenson. they talk about 5g technology, shifts in the cable industry, and the attempt to block the at&t merger with time warner. enson has been head of the company since 2007 and is interviewed by the economic club of washington, d.c. [applause] >> the services that you want. [laughter] pleased to have
randall stephenson, who, since 2007, has been chairman and president of the board of at&t and a company he has been at for virtually his entire career. graduated from and are a native of oklahoma. did you say, i want to be the ceo of at&t one day? was that your ambition? >> it just kind of worked out. oklahoma, and in there was a cattle business. were you ever interested in that business? >> lou higgins and i started out as animal husbandry majors. >> and switched to something else. >> obviously. >> did you know what an animal husbandry is, david question mike david: i do. i realize that private equity work better. so, ultimately, you got a job
with southwestern bell, and southwestern bell resulted in the breakup of at&t in 1984, so how did you get a job there? you were out of college. how did you get your job? thestephenson: i say it old-fashioned way. my brother got me the job. said i can get you a job. i went to southwestern bell, and i started out -- my first job, david, was to hang 19 inch magnetic tapes onto tape drives. you would look at a screen and say this tape on that drive, and i would go find that tape, get the drive, push load and start, and i would do that for a 12 hour shift. much thepretty foundation of everything that i do now. david: your brother is still
working at the company? yes.tephenson: david: does he mention that you are the ceo of a company? mr. stephenson: he is the member of a labor union. i do not think that would be received very well. david: i know a lot of people named randall who call themselves randy. how come you do not use that name? mr. stephenson: grandmother called me randy, and george w. bush still does. david but to never use the name : randy? mr. stephenson: not since i got older. my wife, we had our first daughter and she thought it would be cute to name our daughter randy. david: i guess she liked the name. mr. stephenson: i guess, i guess. after a year, the confusion was too much so i went to randall, , and it sounds more grown-up, too. i think so.
you're working your way up. here is the question to be serious. when 1984 came at&t was broken , up. people may not remember, but at&t was a long distance provider. the fixed line. the smallest of the baby bells was southwestern bell headquartered in st. louis. mr. stephenson: correct. david: how did the smallest upome the one that ate everybody else, and now there are two, verizon and you and you , are a content provider, and what enabled southwestern bell to buy everyone else when nobody but the smallest one would be that strong? mr. stephenson: leadership. i believe more than anything is what drove it. one thing, when at&t broke up, and those seven baby bells all went out there, and they got the local service, and at&t had the long distance service, and back
then, everybody thought that was where it was going, and it turns out that got commoditized, but something that is not talked about much is that at&t owned a lot of wireless airwaves. thatin mind in 1984 wireless service did not exist, so the wireless airwaves got pushed out to the baby bells last-minute. getting these wireless areas out, and ended up with the baby bells, and we built out the wireless technology aggressively, and in the late 1980's, the guy who was running at&t at the time, my predecessor said this is where the growth is going, but you need to have a national footprint, so we went out and started making acquisitions. our stock price got killed because of what he was paying for the other wireless assets that were out there, and before long, we had a nice wireless business that was catapulting us to growth.
ed then add also said -- also said that if a national footprint is important to wireless, wireless will be important to everything. there were law changes that allowed us to start acquiring specific bell, bellsouth, and ultimately at&t. so he drove a whack other -- a whack other -- a rather -- it was a huge m&a activity that i got to be a part of. i am getting a robo call right now. david: is that a robo call from president trump? or somebody? [laughter] mr. stephenson: he doesn't call me. david: he does not call you. ok. while you were working at southwestern bell, later sbc, you want to mexico. what are you doing in mexico? mr. stephenson: we invested thegside carlos slim,
telecommunications company in mexico. it was being privatized. we invested along with him and i went down to be the cfo. it was like one of the greatest experiences of my life. david did you speak spanish : before you got there? mr. stephenson: no, but i started learning really quick. literally, i got down there, and after six months, i was frustrated, and i came in to my office and said in spanish, the next person who speaks to me in english is fired. i do not care if the building is on fire, there is an earthquake no english. , within three or four months, it takes off. now, you make some mistakes in the interim. david: do you speak spanish still? mr. stephenson: [speaking spanish] david: ok. that is more than i speak. [laughter] david: very often in the , business world, somebody buys something, and the dominant partner that buys the other, the non-dominant partner name survives, so sbc buys at&t. if at&t was so good, it would have bought sbc. so why did you not use the sbc
name, since you were better and stronger than at&t? mr. stephenson: the first thing i would like to correct is when you use that legos, don't use the name dominant, in this town particular, because we are not dominant, but, look. we were sbc and we were largely originally, five states, literally arkansas, kansas, texas, oklahoma, and missouri. so the opportunity to buy at&t, a brand, and keep in mind, they were in radical decline when we bought them, and there was about a three-minute bait about taking on a global brand that was well-known, and as you said. david: you were starting out at southwestern bell, then sbc, and then you bought at&t. you took their name, at&t. you are a dominant telecommunications company? are a largeon: we
telecommunications company. david not dominant. : [laughter] david why are you in the : entertainment content providing business now? you spent $85 million recently to buy time warner and it took two years plus to get it approved by the u.s. government. i will ask you about that, but what was the theory about why you wanted to be in the content business and buy time warner? mr. stephenson: it was multifaceted. i will simplify it. as we watched our customers and analyzed our customers, as we have developed network delivery technology, where they can consume video on all devices, anywhere, everywhere they are, it has been surprising and quite enjoyable to watch how people are now consuming video, and this is just in a world of 4g. as we move these networks, and we are moving there aggressively, to 5g, the amount of video you will be able to consume in multiple formats were -- wherever you are, in -- we think is going to explode.
back in 2016, when jeff and i recall whatl, people were saying. cnn had its first year-over-year and somen services, said they were overvalued, and they were actually being traded down. i believe, my board and i believed that is you are either , did, you will have these many distribution points for premium video. all the distribution available any time, should the value of media go up or down, and we believed it was going up. we thought this was an acquisition we ought to do. that was premised number without one. we could get to media businesses at reasonable valuations that would be good on both sides. but then as we began to analyze it, we said, look. isn't necessarily good for at&t to own a media company? yeah, i think it is, but the relevant question is is a media company being attached to a
company like ours workable, and what i think about -- what i mean by that is think of time warner. warner, turner, cnn. upy told me if they stand and leave, that means the moeller report is out. [applause] you takeenson: but if a business like this and equip that content to be delivered directly to the consumer, then what better way to do that than to be paired with a company that has 100 70 million customers out there that we can distribute it to? 170 million customers out there that we can distribute it to? david: $85 billion. so for 80 $5 billion, the u.s. government said, we do not like this acquisition even though it was a vertical merger. you were not really buying a competitor, but the u.s.
government went to court to stop you. do you think there was any political influence behind the decision to stop that or to try to stop that merger? mr. stephenson: um. [laughter] mr. stephenson: the deal had not been formally announced yet. and candidate trump came out and said, at&t is acquiring time warner, and thus, cnn. and that is a transaction the administration will never approve. and whether you are a supporter or detractor of donald trump, one thing everybody in this room must admit is when this man makes a statement on the campaign trail, he pursues it. and so, we were concerned when that statement came out. now, right on the heels of that statement, a gentleman named makin, who was a professor at pepperdine university, was asked by a reporter, what do you think of this transaction? and this law professor of pepperdine said, i don't see any
issues with it. i'm paraphrasing. but he essentially said, i do not see any issues about it. about a year later, that law professor has been confirmed as the head of the anti-trust division in the department of justice, and after, a lawsuit was filed for the first time since the 1970's that a lawsuit had been pursued involving a vertical merger like this, so i have said publicly that it is the elephant in the room when asked the question, is a political motivation behind it? i have no proof that there was, but one of two things. it is either a radical coincidence, or other motivations. we took it to court and fought it on purely antitrust grounds not on political grounds. , and the court, the district court in d.c. ruled rather , strongly that this was not a violation of anti-trust law and it was appealed. interestingly enough, it was a very strong order from the district court that this was not
a violation of anti-trust rules. we thought it was over. it actually gets appealed to the circuit court, and the circuit court likewise rules that this transaction is not anticompetitive, so we close the transaction, so i will leave it to others to judge. david: house democrats are saying they are going to have a hearing on whether or not there was political influence. will you be testifying if requested to do so? mr. stephenson: no one has asked me, and i hope not. david: if you had the two years, 858 days you had to wait, the value of time warner, did it go up, or did it go down? and if it went up, you did not want to pay more for it. were you happy when you waited years and had to pay a price that was cheaper? mr. stephenson: no, i'm not happy at all that it took two years. during the court proceeding, i
was questioned about this. i made the point that since we announced this transaction, at that point in time when i was on the witness stand, that in the time since we announced that transaction to that date, the value increased by $1 trillion. that is what is really important for people to keep in mind. this thing is moving fast. we had an antitrust division that was challenging whether we would exercise undue leverage in negotiating a deal with the cable distributor. when all we were focused on was amazon, netflix, apple these , folks were moving fast. the world of consumption is moving while we were here debating what is happening in the world of cable tv. david you spent $85 billion. :now that $85 billion was an expensive acquisition. mr. stephenson: it was a large acquisition. it was not expensive, i don't think.
david you think you got a good : deal? mr. stephenson: yeah. david: the people running time warner have all left. jeff is gone. the head of hbo was gone, the head of turner broadcasting is gone, and now for a lot of legal reasons and other things, the head of warner bros. studios is gone. all of these senior people are gone. does that worry you? you spent $85 billion, and they are gone. mr. stephenson: of course you worried. other than the most recent, the head of warner bros. studios, which, recently, we parted ways. the rest of them are not surprises. and for example, richard, he did an amazing job growing hbo to where it is today. but where the world is going is different place -- is a different place and a world where you are not focused on distributing content through cable companies. and so, putting hbo with turner
networks so that you can begin to create a truly different product is a different playbook than what has been run previously, so when richard said it was time for him to go, we hired bob greenblatt, who is one of the best executives around in terms of developing content, a great creative mind, the guy who took nbc from where it was when he came in to the top performing tv network. bringing bob greenblatt into do this integration of hbo and warner is important. we have an opening at hbo studios. there is an interim structure in place. but keep in mind that the people in place at hbo or warner bros. studios, peter and others, these are studious -- serious people, and they had been running the theatrical and tv production side for years. they are the best. david all the executives that : you looked at replacing -- mr. stephenson: i forgot to
mention -- i am sorry to interrupt you, but the guy who ran cnn, he is now running all of live entertainment, but news and sports, so things he has run before, so zucker. david: any women are minorities in senior positions? is that something that you care about, diversity? mr. stephenson: yeah, we care deeply about it. i would not cast dispersions at time warner. i think this is an industry that is under indexed in terms of diversity at the most senior levels, so you can assume that is something we are focused on as we move forward. david: so where do you get your news? do you watch cnn all the time? mr. stephenson: i watch a lot more than i use to. [laughter] mr. stephenson: with a critical eye. david: if you don't like what they say, do you call someone up and say this is not the right thing to put on? or you don't do that?
mr. stephenson: no, i don't get involved in editorial content of the news. if i don't like the color palette, i don't know, but i don't intervene and jeff zucker's business, but i am a news junkie, and i consume news constantly. i'm obsessive about it. but i have multiple sources. david: do you watch fox as well? mr. stephenson: look -- [laughter] look, i walkn: into verizon stores -- david: do they recognize you? mr. stephenson: if they have, they have not said anything. i walk into t-mobile stores. i like being in washington, d.c., because of comcast cable. i always want to see what the competitor is doing, so do i want fox, occasionally. david: let's talk cellular. today, there are four cellular companies in the u.s.? mr. stephenson: four national ones. david you are the largest?
second,phenson: we are behind verizon. david and then there is t-mobile : and sprint? mr. stephenson: correct. david you tried to buy t-mobile : at one point, but were told no? mr. stephenson: why would you bring that up? [laughter] david because i wanted to ask : you, now sprint is trying to buy t-mobile. if you could not buy it, why should they be able to buy it? are you opposed to them buying it? mr. stephenson: i have to be cautious, because if i say i think that deal needs to get done, that could be a deathknell , but look. when we tried to buy t-mobile, we made an argument, and i thought it was a compelling argument. disingenuousather for me to sit here and say i thought we should have been able to buy it. but t-mobile should not be able to combine with sprint. the same arguments apply.
david disingenuous is : not a big problem. [laughter] but ok. [laughter] mr. stephenson: here's the problem, the doj filed a very aggressive lawsuit against us to block that transaction and the core premise of their lawsuit was that going from for national -- four national competitors to three is anti-competitive by definition. they've made this extensive lengthy argument about why us doing it didn't work. it was not because two was buying three. it was because four was going to be and i thought this would be three, the hurdle these guys had to get over to get this done so they had a difficult hurdle to get over. david: let's talk about the business of cellular. you're now rapidly trying to build out 5g. mr. stephenson: correct. david: so let's explain. what is two g, 3g, 4g, 5g? mr. stephenson: the g means generation so to g is second-generation technology. when you had your flip phone,
remember how you used to text using a 10-key phone? that was two g. the allowed that kind of service. 3g is when the internet became mobile. third-generation networks allowed mobile use of the internet. it was 3g when the iphone came out that allowed the iphone. the first iphone was on two g but when it went 3g is when it exploded because you are literally using the internet on a mobile device. fourth generation is what really enabled all of us to consume a smartphone. it literally mobilized video. without 4g technology, instagram would not be what it is today. facebook is virtually all video now. consuming all of this video on a mobile device is facilitated by 4g. 5g i believe will prove to be the most transformative of all theg's we have seen to date.
david what will it do : for us? mr. stephenson: first of all, step change faster. it will also have zero latency , meaning you issue a command and its immediate. you're always connected, a real-time network like turning on a light switch. it is real time. why is that important? it is really important when you start to conceive of services like autonomous cars. you don't want to be in and a taunus car this dependent on the network with latency. you don't want to be dependent on an autonomous car that's dependent on the network with latency. it is important when you conceive of these services. you can begin to conceive of robotic manufacturing that is always on, always connected with 5g networks, and to put this into perspective the internet of , things, devices and sensors that are connected all over the place, today's networks in a square mile, you can connect 1000, 2000, 3000 of those.
in a 5g world, you can connect millions of those in a square-mile. and each of those devices that is connected to the network, you can now locate on a 5g network, rather than today you can locate , within a certain number of meters. we will be able to isolate that device within centimeters. think about what you can do as you begin to get that kind of precision on location and that kind of speed. i could not conceive of the iphone when we build a 3g network. you and i can't conceive of all the services that are going to materialize with this kind of capability. david when the iphone was being :developed, did steve jobs try to explain it to you? what did you think, and what was he saying? mr. stephenson: yeah, we were building a mobile internet, that's with 3g was about. as i said i didn't really know , what the mobile internet looked like. just build it and the people will use it. that's always been my philosophy. if you make something mobile, utility explodes. the guy in the black turtleneck
shows up with a description, an explanation of a product -- he did not have a product. he had an explanation. think about a phone that doesn't have a keypad. it's just a screen. and it has icons and you push these icons and stock quotes, the weather, you get that. the minute we saw that, that's the mobile internet. that's something we have to be a part of. that's what we are building the future for. david: so you said to steve, let's be partners? or how did you do that? mr. stephenson: let's pursue it. it was a very intense negotiation of business terms. steve, obviously, had a lot of confidence. and to do a deal -- we did the first exclusive deal with the iphone. we launched the first one, and it allowed us to fundamentally change our business model. of money, andot we took a lot of dilution when
we did this deal. we said we believe so strongly not only in the vision but in that guy, steve jobs. we said let's make this bet. david: how do you build out 5g? are you putting sensors around the country? what are you doing? mr. stephenson: as you think about current technology, you see on the sides of buildings, these big antennas around washington, d.c. you see the towers and massive broadcasting of data and so forth. 5g is very different. you will start to see what we call small cells. we have 60 some odd thousand cell sites in the u.s. we will deploy hundreds of thousands of these small cells. david at&t directly : or do you hire a contractor? mr. stephenson: it will be all of the above. this will be a massive logistical effort. i am excited about it. stuff we do, we do well, but literally we will deploy hundreds of thousands of these antennas on light poles, the sides of buildings and so forth.
david: will it be easy for people to break that or interfere with it? because it might be reachable by average people that can climb into a place where it is, or that is not going to happen? mr. stephenson: if you can get on the roof of any of the buildings and washington, d.c., you can probably do the same thing. so it is infrastructure. it is against the law. david: right now with , the current situation, i'm driving from dulles to downtown washington, sometimes the cell coverage breaks down. mr. stephenson: it used to. it was exit 13. it does not anymore. [laughter] david: thank you. did it ever happened to you? mr. stephenson: it happened to me a lot and i would call every time i went through their. i said, i dropped the damn call again. these guys have to get a cell site permit. adding that done in this day and age -- this is an important point -- it can take 2-3 years to get a cell site permit. we hear a lot of people
, including the folks in the administration, talking about china is going to beat us to the world of 5g . in china, they don't spend two years getting a permit. they say we want a cell site and they go build it. here, this 2-3 years will be a problem. the longest hole in the tent on 5g will be deploying hundreds of thousands of small cells. david is china ahead of us in 5g now, do you think? mr. stephenson: not now. we have 5g, live 5g standards-based up and running in 12 markets but china has zero. they are running trials. now china will commit to this. , they have said this is a major focus of theirs from an economic development standpoint and a security standpoint. so they will come hard. they are investing heavily in this. david: will you buy the equipment of huawei to build 5g? are you allowed to? mr. stephenson: our government
has told us not to, so i get it. we are not using huawei, the chinese developer of this developer the largest in the world for telecom equipment. our government is being very aggressive on this, that this is a security risk. i do not think that we, our government, is doing the best work in explaining why the security risk exists. and to me, the biggest risk is not that the chinese government might listen in on our phone are dataions or mine somehow if we use their equipment. that's not the issue. can see for a moment about what i said that we can now put millions of connected devices in a square mile. this will be the basis for automated -- autonomous cars. 5-10 years from now, every manufacturing floor will be attached to 5g.
5g will be driving robotics. 5g will be driving the manufacturing floor. 5g will be involved in traffic management around our cities. think about what happened with refineries. we have to ask our question -- ourselves a question. if that much of our infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? we damn well better be. are there things that we can do to protect ourselves? but i think our government is asking the right questions. >> other governments are not
accepting that argument. are you surprised that they're not accepting this argument? >> this is the most confused issue that is getting front page reporting in the "new york times" on cnn talks about it all the time. the europeans are saying we need a diverse supply chain. and we all want a diverse supply chain. uawei, blem is with h they're not allowing it to be a diverse supply chain. they're not allowing interoperatebility. meaning if you're 4g you're uck with huwaei with 57g that's their problem. they don't have an option to go to somebody else. >> i see. let's talk about the cost if we get 5g, am i going the have cheaper bills? >> i hope not. i really hope not. [laughter]
>> it's not going to be cheaper. >> it's a more efficient technology. but the 5g experience with you and your smartphone, it's just going to be a better experience. this morn morning, we have 5g evolution here in washington, d.c. i did a speed test. i got 134 meg on our wireless network right now, ok? that's going to to 400 and 500 meg. your experience will get better and better. it's more efficient. will people pay more for higher speed tiers? but i don't think we worked out the pricing arithmetic. >> i don't know if you look at your phone bills, but do you ever look at them and say i don't understand what this charge is for? >> i look at my phone bill every month. >> do you complain to them? >> who do you complain to?
[laughter] phone bills can be confusing. we tax phone service like we tax cigarettes and alcohol. it's at a comparable level. you have taxes, fees, all this stuff that are required to tack on to the phone bill. i agree with you. it does make a confusing environment. >> you send phone bills every month. what percentage of people send phone -- pay online and write checks out? >> i think 70% pay online. >> and the people over 50 are the people paying online or sending checks? what type of phone do you use? >> i'm carrying an apple iphone. i carry a samsung device. >> so you carry both just because which is better? >> i always want to compare, right? >> right now, the business that you started out with, you being southwestern bell which was the local line business, and it was the wired line, what percentage
of your revenue today -- your revenue today is a little under $200 billion -- >> $190 billion. what percentage of that revenue comes with the traditional business you started out with in 1994? >> if you think about that business, i started out in 1994, there was five states. there was no such thing as wireless service or broadband or tv. it was pretty much what we call plain old tell phone service. the land line telephone. and to businesses, we did a lot of data kind of stuff. that business when i started $12 n 1984 was about a billion at the vest chure. it would be irrelevant today because that plain old telephone service, it's largely gone. >> in the area, you still provide local phone service in your core area? >> we do. but we provide it over a broadband line now.
>> what percentage of people say i want to have a telephone line put in my apartment or house when they move? they just use wireless? they don't have a wired system put in? >> you know you've hit a hipping point when my mom asks me why do i have this land line telephone, honey? >> and i said because you're ma bell and you have to have a telephone -- [laughter] personally, very few people call asking for a telephone line. >> they don't do that anymore. >> another acquisition they made was directv. you spent $49 billion for that. that's why some people would melting ice cube business because subscribers are going down in that satellite tv business. why did you spend that much money. did you realize it was going o be going down in terms of subscriber usage? >> oh, yeah. when we had the deal approved by the board, we put a melting ices because subscribers are going b case in front of them and showed this was a business that was in decline.
so we first started out with, yeah, but you put it with our business it's going to generate a huge amount of cost savings. the numbers were significant. it was like $2.5 billion a year of cost savings on top of our business you could take out of it. so you put this business with ours, and it generates well over $4 billion in cash flow. it allowed us to turn around and reinvest in a whole new tv platform, streaming platform which we have done and it's a platform that's doing quite well. we also took that money that $4 billion and we've been investing aggressively since that time in deploying fiber. it's been the largest fiber deployment in the u.s. for the last four years. our broadband business is growing 6%, 7% by virtue of that investment. we invested heavily in an advertising platform. this is interesting to conceive because this is important. the advertising platform is core to making the time warner acquisition play out.
and that is we have a lot of information that we ask our customers per united nations use . what are they watching? what are their viewing habits and so forth at an aggregated level? and we take that information and we sell advertising placement to advertisers. think for a moment as you said the shrinking ice cube, we have information that's shrinking ice cream. we have this advertising business that is growing dramatically. now, take that technology and combine it with cnn's advertising inventory. they have a massive advertising inventory. if we could take that data and apply it to their inventory it's a rather significant opportunity. >> disney is in the content business as well. they've been saying in the streaming business they might not let disney be streamed by
other services let's say netflix. are you going to use your products only on your streaming services or can people use time warner product elsewhere? >> i saw bob iger which he said something i agree with. there's not a one size fits all. there will be some content in the warner bros. inventory. fourth quarter of last year, netflix licenses the -- the series of "friends." you remember "friends"? 1980's and all that kind of stuff. it's hugely popular on netflix. that expired in the fourth quarter. we had a question you're asking me. do we want to use "friends" exclusively on our streaming platform or do we want to continue licensing it to netflix? and we think yes, it's important to have it on our platform, but it doesn't need to be exclusive. so we signed a deal today.
>> who do you regard your major competitors? >> when i wake tpwhup the morning i want to know how we did against comcast, charter, spectrum, etc. if you ask who do i think about in terms of where we're going in the future, look, it's amazon, it's netflix, it's disney. those are the competitive set that i spend more time thinking about. >> you now have with the time warner merger 290,000 employees? >> correct. >> how do you keep up with them? meet with them? spend time communicating your views with them? and is it awesome to have 290,000 employees you're responsible for? >> it's amazing. it's a big responsibility. i mean, it's one of these things you spend a lot of time thinking about is fairly compensating 290,000 employees particularly in a labor market that's 3%
unemployment. it's a competitive marketplace. we're spending a lot of time thinking about this, health care for 290,000 people is a big deal. we'll spend $5.5 billion on healthcare this year for our employees. and how do you sustain it? we have a $70 billion pension plan. and how can you insure these people when they're 80 years old is their pension check still coming? you spend a lot of time on these issues making sure the company is fiscally secure to provide that. and recruiting is a big deal. >> investing more in private equity is what you might consider that. [laughter] >> i'll be happy to give you all $70 billion if you take all liability with it. >> let me think about that. [laughter] what is the best pleasure of being the c.e.o. of at&t? what are you excited about?
and what's the downside other than interviews like this of that imp situation? >> look, when young people come in and they're trying to decide or even recruiting executives where to go to work, i just can't imagine a place where at the scale we have to deal with it, you deal with the technological innovation and technological obs le sense. on a massive scale we will invest in the united states of america this year in all likelihood more than any other company did, and we'll do it again this year. so we're investing at a torrent clip. you're in an industry where the lines are blurring. you get a deal with massive issues like i just articulated and people issues. and we have the largest full-time labor union. a lot of people roll their eyes. i'm glad i don't have to deal
with i. it's part of the business challenge. it's an amazing puzz that you have to put the pieces in the right place to put the value. >> you to come to washington from time to time and deal with government officials. do you have a lot of meetings with the administration? do you go by president trump and say you made a mistake on that time warner? >> the last time i talked to him reform.ood job on tax i spend way too much time here. every minute that i'm here is a minute i'm not taking care of employees. i'm not putting together great product. we're not getting stuff to market. every day i spend here is a day we're not doing that. and we spend way too much time here, and too much of our success and failure is depenitent on what the people of this town decide to doen a
day-to-day basis. >> i take it you never want to go into government? >> that would be a fair assessment. [laughter] >> speaking of the job, you've had the job for quite a while. you'll became the c.e.o. in 2007. now we're 2019. you've had the job for more or less 12 years, almost. you don't have a retirement age mandatory in your company, i don't think. you're 58. >> my wife has a mandatory retirement age, yes. >> you expect to do this for how much longer would you say? >> i don't know. my board and i talk about that. there's obviously a lot that goes into that decision. do you have somebody ready? do you have a bench ready and so forth? i've not given any external indication on that. >> so what is the secret to having at the age of 58 no gray hair? i notice the contrast of my situation. you have no gray hair. is that genetic or what is na that? >> it is genetic. i'm told that my great, great
grandmother was native american. i'm afraid to do a genetic test after what happened recently. [laughter] but my grandmother when she passed away at 98 years old, her hair looked like mine. i've been accused of dying it a lot. i don't dye it. >> what do you do for relaxation when you're not worried about the 290,000 employees? >> we spend a lot of time in wyoming. we have horses and love to trout fish. and i play a really bad game of golf. >> you sponsored the at&t at pebble beach? >> we do. >> you get to play with tiger woods or phil mickelson? you're the amateur playing with them? >> unfortunately, it has -- it's kind of like getting married, there has to be somebody trying to play with you. i can't say i want to play with tiger because they've seen me
play. >> so you don't win that tournament or something? >> i've never made the cut in that tournament. >> you're not talking to people making sure it's different or something? [laughter] now, you have two daughters -- >> i do. >> and you have grandchildren. >> five grandkids. what are do they call you? >> they call me pop. >> not boss. >> i was very strategic on selecting pop and this is really important for everybody to understand. be strategic on what you want your grandkids to call you. they can say pop sooner than what they say dad and it irritates your son-in-laws to death. [laughter] >> you told me one of your daughters is training to be in the limbs as a marathon runner -- olympics as a marathon. >> i've never ran a marathon and i never will. she ran an amazing time. it was 240 something was her
marathon time so she qualified to make the olympic trials and she's going to make a run at it. >> anymore acquisitions in the works you want to reveal today or things you're thinking about or have you thought about it for the time being? >> when we took on the time warner deal, we took on a lot of debt to get it done. as people in the media like to say, we're in most indebted company in the world, which i have to remind people, yes, but if you look at the metric that determines your ability to pay debt, apple, samsung and three chinese companies have more e bida than us. i'm focused on paying that debt down. we took on $40 billion of debt to do it. by the time we exit this year we would have paid $30 billion and i can largely have that set aside. >> you great on where the economy is going.
do you fear any recession in the near future? >> no, it looks good to us. the consumer is spending. attitude seems to be good. we're coming off a year where the corporate tax reform was designed to do and that is it drove investment. you saw business investment, it was running the last fourth quarter was up 6%, 7% which was great. i do believe the reason for our economic malaise for the last few years we've been underinvesting in america. and so it's not a coincidence in my mind that you see business investment ticking up for the first time. you see unemployment driving down for the first time. and you're seeing most importantly as investment goes up, what happens? productivity goes up and when productivity goes up, what should you see? wage growth. we're seeing nice wage growth. and so all of that looks really good to us. the thing i worry about right
now is investment tarted to do do this. and -- started to do this. and i'm trying to try angulate how much of that is china trade, mexico trade. so we have seen a little bit of a tick down in business investment which that to me is the driver of employment and productivity and wage growth. right now, it feels ok to us. -- do youyou especial intend to expand outside of the united states? >> yes, warner has 50% of their revenue outside of the united states. >> are you moving into mexico? >> we've gone aggressively after mexico. we went down there. we bought a couple of companies that were floundering. and we've been investing. we've got a nationwide network in mexico now. 100 million people pass with in network. we've been the fastest grower in the mexico for the last three years. >> you used to work with carlos
slim. now you're competing with him. is ate problem? >> it's not pleasant -- demo, it's not a problem. carlos is a fierce competitor. when we had to sell our interest in his company, i immediately turned around and bought these because i'm a huge believer in mexico. the demographics, everything about mexico just fits with our business perfectly. and so he knew i was going to turn around and come right back in. so we've been competing very aggressively for the last four years. >> to conclude if you were to summarize what would you like the people to know about at&t what is it that most people should know about your company? >> technology, media, telecommunication, that's kind of a sector that people in the financial analyst community talk about. and they talk about it that way because i truly believe all of that is just melding. and i believe the company that can create a premium media
experience and pair that with a really significant distribution experience, 5g-driven. it's going to create some experiences for customers that you and i aren't conceiving up. just to make this point, we carry around these devices and they're bigger than they should be because there's a lot of compute in here, there's a lot of storage in here. when you get the 5g, all that compute and all that storage goes away. it's back in the network. these form factors, some would say they shrink. i would say they go away. it is conceivable that we're going to be moving into a world without screens, a world where this is your screen. you don't need anymore more of a form factor once the compute and the storage requirements move out of the network. and guys like you can begin to think very differently about how you deliver your content to our customers. it becomes a delivery without
screens. it's just a totally different experience. i believe that at&t is right at the center of all this. because if you ask yourself five years from now, in this room, will you be consuming more or less mobile bandwidth? more? who thinks more? will you be consuming more or less premium entertainment? >> more. i like where we are in both of those. >> ok. well, i want to thank you for a very interesting conversation. and congratulations. i have a gift for you. [applause] ne second. >> this is a map -- the original map of the district -- it's not a map, but it's a picture -- [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019]
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announcer: next, a look at birthright citizenship and immigration policy in the u.s. the tenment museum in new york city brought a group of historians, scholars for the discussion. it runs about an hour and a half. abo>> good evening, >> good evening, everyone. welcome to the tenment museum. i'm laura lee. manage that program here at the museum. i am excited to have you for our discussion on birthright citizenship. we are here with our partners, the scholars strategy network, which we will hear more about later. how many of you have been to the museum before, i am curious? wow, excellent. thank you for coming back and for being connected to us in this way. we actually see these talks as an extension of the conversations we have on our tour. so what we do here is we tell