So, yesterday we wrote about the cable industry lobbying group NCTA blatantly misleading
with statistics about how much broadband investment is coming from the cable side. The story it was pushing was that investment in broadband has continued to go up and up (and thus, "changing" the rules would somehow lead to less investment).
Beyond changing the number of years before showing the totals, this chart is exceptionally misleading in that it is showing cumulative
investment, rather than the actual rate of investment. Matthew Yglesias called NCTA out on this
, leading NCTA to more or less admit Yglesias was right
, though denying that he was. Still, NCTA finally released some actual year-by-year numbers. Of course, as people quickly noted, those year-by-year numbers seemed to support Yglesias' point. Furthermore, they weren't adjusted for inflation.
Thankfully, one of our readers using the name cincinnatus (nice one), posted the inflation adjusted numbers
, and we've taken the liberty of making a new chart with those numbers:
From there, the story of cable continually increasing investment looks... very different. There was that big initial build-out of broadband in the late 90s/early 2000s, but then expenditures dropped, and other than minor ups and downs it's been pretty flat. In fact, since 2007, the trend is pretty clearly downward on investment. Yes, there's a tiny bump in the last two years, but that's at best flat spending, not any real increase.
Now, it's possible to claim -- as some cable industry supporters have been -- that because of greater efficiency and better technology, spending the same amount is fine because they get more value out of fewer dollars. But, if that's the case, then that's the argument the cable industry should be making, rather than the wholly misleading
argument that investment in infrastructure has continued to rise over the last decade. It's quite clear from the chart that this is simply not true.