Comcast Admits Net Neutrality Rules Had No Real Impact On The Company

from the chilling-effect-of-bullshit dept

Back when AT&T, Verizon and Comcast were fighting tooth and nail against the FCC's net neutrality rules, you'll recall that most of them made all manner of breathless, hyperbolic claims about how net neutrality would demolish sector investment, rip the planet off its axis, and disrupt the time-space continuum. For example in 2014 Comcast was quick to try and claim that the passage of such consumer protections would hurt jobs, stifle investment, and otherwise forge a calamitous, unlivable hellscape:
"The sheer uncertainty surrounding such a regulatory environment would produce ‘a profoundly negative impact on capital investment.’ By itself, reduced investment would inhibit job creation, hinder the deployment of broadband infrastructure, and undermine the ‘virtuous circle’ of innovation that the open Internet rules are designed to advance."
Of course, none of that actually happened. And while the industry did try to pay some industry-allied think tankers to fudge the numbers and make it look as if an investment apocalypse occurred, the actual numbers never actually supported that. While not always the case in less competitive areas, overall sector investment has been as healthy as ever, especially as wireless providers fixate on deploying fifth generation (5G) wireless services.

Speaking at an investor conference last week, Comcast CFO Mike Cavanaugh basically acknowledged that the company overstated the perils of the country's relatively basic net neutrality protections (and the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II), admitting the impact of net neutrality on Comcast's actual business one way or the other was negligible:
"If you saw Title II go away or the reclassification undone,” the analyst asked, “would that be a meaningful change or meaningful benefit for Comcast?"

Cavanaugh’s answer? Basically, it doesn’t matter.

“I think in terms of what actually happens,” Cavanaugh said, “it’s the fear of what Title II could have meant, more than what it actually did mean.”
Except the "fear of what Title II could have meant" was driven largely by baseless hysteria concocted by Comcast itself. And immediately after effectively admitting that there's nothing to fear but fear itself, Cavanaugh tried to suggest that the faintest specter of a telecom regulator actually doing its job had a "chilling effect" all the same (citation needed). He also tried to claim that Comcast really, truly loves net neutrality despite making up complete bullshit repeatedly in an attempt to scuttle it:
"As you know, we very much believe in the principles behind what [the] policy was trying to get at,” he continued, “but the overhang of where it could go in the future was something that I think had a chilling effect. Hopefully that chilling effect is gone; both from how investors look at the space and businesses look at the space."
Cavanaugh's enthusiasm about the lifting of this nonexistent "chilling effect" is obvious: the incoming Trump administration is making it abundantly clear it intends to not only gut net neutrality, but defund and defang the FCC itself. Comcast's actually facing less broadband competition than ever before as telcos give up on residential broadband to focus on content and advertising. Combine that with the looming, actual "chilling effect" of a rubber stamp toothless regulator in charge of a broken market, and it's clear that consumers, startups and innovators have plenty to worry about, even if Comcast doesn't.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:41am

    I always thought that Comcast wasn't afraid of Title II hurting the company because they are big enough that the regulatory burden isn't a big deal, just that they could make even more money without it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:49am

    Comcast's actually facing less broadband competition than ever before as telcos give up on residential broadband to focus on content and advertising.

    One question, if the Telcos give up broadband, how will they deliver their content? Are they thinking that they can get Comcast and the other cable companies to pay them for more content to be delivered over cable?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 7:23am

    I don't get it...

    "Combine that with the looming, actual "chilling effect" of a rubber stamp toothless regulator in charge of a broken market, and it's clear that consumers, startups and innovators have plenty to worry about, even if Comcast doesn't."

    The toothless FCC has been gumming this shit for years...
    The very concerns being brought up have already been going on for years and I bet would not have changed even if the new rules were put into place.

    At least this way... a few government dollars can be saved to go into a pork project!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    blogagog (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 8:31am

    In fact, net neutrality rules as they stand now HELP ISPs. They can now legally charge for some data, and give other data a free pass. This is supposed to be what net neutrality was to put an end to. Instead, it made it legal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 9:07am

      Re:

      They could do that before, and can do it after the rules are gutted. The FCC screwed up in not explicitly prohibiting zero-rating from the get-go, allowing such actions to occur, but it's not their fault the companies decided to engage in it in the first place, that is entirely on the companies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 8:34am

    Not that it matters to those in charge, no? I expect that moron Pai and the republicans to slaughter the flimsy protections Wheeler managed to put in place. Why deal with facts, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 8:45am

    Perhaps he's just saying that since they're about to get their way anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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