Despite Claims Title II Will Kill Investment, Comcast Launches Major New 2 Gigabit Deployment
from the watch-what-we-do,-not-what-we-say dept
While broadband ISPs have repeatedly claimed that being reclassified as common carriers under Title II will crush sector innovation, investment, and destroy the Internet as we know it — they simultaneously continue to do a bang up job highlighting how these claims are complete and utter nonsense. For example, while Verizon was busy proclaiming that Title II would ruin, well, everything, it’s been using Title II to reap massive tax benefits. Similarly, despite the fact wireless voice has been classified under Title II for years, that didn’t stop the industry from investing massive amounts during that period or spending record amounts at the FCC’s latest spectrum auction.
Comcast has similarly proclaimed that if the FCC moved toward Title II it would have a devastating impact on network investment. In fact Comcast’s top lobbyist David Cohen had this to say the day the FCC voted to approve Title II rules:
“To attempt to impose a full-blown Title II regime now, when the classification of cable broadband has always been as an information service, would reverse nearly a decade of precedent, including findings by the Supreme Court that this classification was proper. This would be a radical reversal that would harm investment and innovation, as today’s immediate stock market reaction demonstrates.”
Of course on the day in question telecom stocks actually rallied, suggesting Wall Street wasn’t all that worried about the FCC’s new rules. Meanwhile, this sudden freeze in investment is nowhere to be found on the news this week that Comcast is going to deploy symmetrical 2 gigabit per second service to an estimated 18 million homes. From the Comcast blog post:
“We?ll first offer this service in Atlanta and roll it out in additional cities soon with the goal to have it available across the country and available to about 18 million homes by the end of the year. Gigabit Pro is a professional-grade residential fiber-to-the-home solution that leverages our fiber network to deliver 2 Gbps upload and download speeds…
Gigabit Pro isn?t the only way we plan to bring gigabit speeds to customers? homes. We are currently testing DOCSIS 3.1, a scalable, national, next generation 1 Gbps technology solution. We hope to begin rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 in early 2016, and when fully deployed, it will mean almost every customer in our footprint will be able to receive gigabit speeds over our existing network (a combination of both fiber and coax).”
Before people get too excited, remember that Comcast is trying to get its acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved, and as such is probably willing to make any number of promises it may or may not keep. ISPs also often like to conflate homes “passed” with fiber with homes served, so we’ll have to see if Comcast actually gets anywhere near that 18 million mark. It’s also worth noting that the company’s current top-shelf tier of 505 Mbps runs users $400 a month, has a $1000 early termination fee, a $250 installation fee, and a $250 administrative fee. As such, if pricing for the new tier is similar Comcast knows most users won’t take the option, with the possible exception of markets where Google Fiber creates downward pricing pressure.
Still, which is it? Does classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II create telecommunications Armageddon, or do things generally just proceed as normal, the only exception being an FCC equipped to police the most egregious examples anti-competitive behavior? Because increasingly, all signs are pointing to the latter.