Cable Lobby Again Makes It Clear That Net Neutrality Didn't Hurt Broadband Investment
from the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too dept
So we’ve long noted how giant ISPs like Comcast have repeatedly tried to claim that the FCC’s fairly modest 2015 net neutrality rules utterly devastated broadband industry investment. The problem for Comcast is that any time a journalist takes the time to review publicly-available SEC filings and earnings reports, that claim is proven indisputably false. Yet, no matter how many times this complete and total fabrication is pointed out by the media, broadband industry lobbyists simply continue to repeat the claim, hoping lazy reporters regurgitate it (which still somehow happens more often than not).
Not only does the broadband sector continue to repeat this claim, they contradict themselves on pretty much a monthly basis.
The latest case in point: the cable industry’s top lobbying organization, the NCTA, this week published a blog post patting itself on the back for the amazing improvements and investments made in the sector in recent years. The group cites a recent report by Akamai (pdf), which notes the United States is now tenth worldwide in terms of average broadband speeds. The NCTA is quick to applaud itself for the industry’s “aggressive deployment of new technologies” by the cable sector:
“This near quadrupling of internet speeds in just five years is the result of constant innovation cycles and aggressive deployment of new technologies across the country. Thanks to the constant process of growth and improvement, Gigabit cities are springing up across the country in both urban and rural communities, further driving average speeds into the stratosphere.”
Most of the sector improvements are courtesy of either scattered fiber deployments — or cable DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades, which allow for gigabit speeds over cable. That said, the fact that many telcos have given up on the residential fixed-line broadband market means the cable sector has established a fairly impressive monopoly over next-generation broadband speeds, allowing it to ignore customer service, raise prices, and expand unpopular usage caps and overage fees. It’s part of the reason why speeds (or investment) alone shouldn’t be used to determine the health of the telecom market.
Regardless, over on Twitter, the NCTA is again quick to use these upgrades as a shining example of the cable industry’s ongoing commitment to investing in upgrades:
Comcast Lights Up Gigabit Speeds in More Markets – Seattle, San Fran, Houston, Colorado, Oregon & more https://t.co/Z92RBF7Yub
— NCTA – Internet & TV (@NCTAitv) June 8, 2017
The problem, of course, is that the NCTA has consistently argued that this kind of investment wasn’t happening due to net neutrality protections. That’s one of the central, repeated, unyielding justifications for the FCC’s decision to try and kill the agency’s net neutrality rules this summer. Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica is quick to highlight the raging inconsistency of this position:
“As we can see, the NCTA has flexible messaging and applies conflicting arguments to different situations. When the NCTA tells the Federal Communications Commission that it should roll back net neutrality regulations, the association says that the rules harm investment and raise prices on consumers. But when trying to convince the public that US broadband is a marvel of innovation and that we should all be grateful to cable companies, the NCTA says speeds are soaring and that customers are paying less.”
In short when the cable lobby wants to market its incredible “innovation” — it points out all of the investments into next-gen broadband speeds it has been making. When it wants to kill FCC rules protecting consumers from growing monopoly behavior, suddenly all these investments magically disappear.