The apparent dig at Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and Google Fiber was made this morning by National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell in the kick off to the trade group’s annual confab, taking place this year in Washington, D.C. “We don’t cherry pick the most lucrative customers,” the former FCC chairman says. “We serve everyone in our footprint.” Many here believe that cable execs will use the industry gathering, no longer a hotbed of dealmaking, to burnish cable’s image before lawmakers and their staffs. “Cable is on an innovation tear,” Powell said. With its Internet services as well as TV, operators are “the conduit for our future.” Those who say that the U.S. lags other countries in broadband speeds and subscriptions are making “false comparisons,” he says. Unlike, say, France or Latvia “we are home to 316M people.” Powell added that the cable industry spent $200B since the mid 1990s to build its broadband infrastructure. “It was risky and truthfully, not everyone was a believer. There’s much to believe in now.” And while broadband “speeds have skyrocketed, the price to consumer has not,” he says, due in part to “the government’s light touch.” Powell added that “the cable industry has always (supported) an open Internet” so it can “compete aggressively but always fairly.”