Sorry Net Neutrality Chicken Littles, Title II & Net Neutrality Still Haven't Hurt Broadband Investment In The Slightest
from the the-sky-is-not-falling dept
It’s the ISP lobbyist and think tank meme that simply won’t die. ISPs of course predicted all manner of doom and gloom should net neutrality and Title II reclassification come to pass. Tubes were supposed to clog, innovation was supposed to die, and investment in broadband networks was supposed to shrivel up completely. Of course, none of that happened. Instead what we’ve seen is broadband investment actually spike, many of the companies feuding before the rules came to pass suddenly getting along beautifully, and Netflix streams that no longer suck thanks to the threat of a regulator actually doing its fucking job.
Of course, if you’re a mega-ISP lobbyist or executive (or one of the millions of people paid to parrot their bullshit in one fashion or another) you can’t admit that, lest you get kicked out of the ISP think tank astroturf adventure club.
So instead, we’ve seen everyone from ex-Verizon lawyers turned FCC Commissioners to Congressmen repeat the idea that Title II killed the broadband golden goose. As net neutrality opponents continue to hold a series of show pony hearings intended to shame the FCC for daring to stand up to ISPs, the claim that net neutrality is the anti-Viagra to sustained broadband spending continues to play front and center. Though entertainingly, even the “experts” that neutrality opponents have been inviting to DC to tell them what they want to hear have even started to balk:
“Robert Shapiro, co-founder Sonecon LLC, has predicted investment could eventually decline between 5 percent and 20 percent per year because of the rules. He said the rules will have a “substantial adverse effect” but noted that those who claim to know fully how the rules will affect investment are “talking through their hat.” Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute similarly said, “We don’t know now what is going to happen.” The institute has previously blamed the rules for a decline in broadband capital expenditures in the first half of 2015, though others have disputed the cause.”
The same Progressive Policy Institute claiming “we don’t know what is going to happen,” is the same organization that’s been circulating a study by Hal Singer for months claiming that Title II was responsible for a 12% dip in network investment. That study has been popping up in everything from editorials to Congressional testimony for months. Except as we’ve already explored at length, Singer cherry-picked his data, including companies that were winding up major projects that had nothing to do with net neutrality (like AT&T’s completion of “Project VIP” fiber upgrades, or Charter’s finished digital cable conversion).
And indeed, the one or two people in the tech and telecom press that can be bothered to actually look at CAPEX numbers are discovering that lo and behold, investment is doing just fine:
“In the nine months ending September 30, Comcast said its “capital expenditures increased 12.8 percent to $5.9 billion compared to the prior year.” The Q3 increases are primarily due to “increased spending on customer premise equipment related to the deployment of the X1 platform and wireless gateways and our ongoing investment to expand business services,” Comcast said.
…Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second biggest cable company after Comcast, reported today that its capital expenditures increased to $3.5 billion in the first nine months of 2015 due to efforts “to improve network reliability, upgrade older customer premise equipment and expand its network to additional residences, commercial buildings and cell towers.”
…The new classification hasn’t slowed mobile investment at Verizon, which is preparing for an upgrade to 5G and reported that its wireless capital investment is “$8.5 billion year to date, up 8.4 percent from a year ago.” The increase was even more striking when comparing Q3 2014 to Q3 2015, with wireless capital spending going up 17.6 percent from $2.48 billion to $2.92 billion.
Anybody noticing a trend? And again, in the instances where an ISP did reduce spending, it was usually related to things that have jack shit to do with net neutrality, such as AT&T and Verizon’s refusal to upgrade their DSL networks, or cable companies finishing up set top box deployment projects. Surely Hal Singer and the net neutrality chicken little band will be issuing statements admitting they were in error any day now? Of course not. What they’ll do is insist that it’s just too early to see the diabolical impact real net neutrality rules will have on the broadband sector. Then, in ten years, when there’s still no impact (assuming the rules aren’t sued into oblivion), these folks will be on to the next scary paymaster talking point, pretending they never made these predictions at all.