Anybody Claiming Net Neutrality Rules Killed Broadband Investment Is Lying To You

from the chicken-little-for-hire dept

In 2015 the FCC passed some fairly basic net neutrality rules designed to keep broadband duopolies from abusing a lack of broadband competition to hamstring internet competitors. Despite the endless pearl clutching from ISP lobbyists and allies, the rules were relatively modest, falling well short of the more comprehensive rules we've seen passed in places like Canada, Japan, and India. Still, ISPs have spent every day since trying to claim that the rules somehow utterly devastated broadband sector investment, despite the fact that independent economists and journalists have repeatedly proven that to be a lie.

That lie, of course, has been the cornerstone of Trump FCC head Ajit Pai's assault on net neutrality rules and the court sanctioned Title II classification being used to support them. Pai has repeatedly tried to claim that sector investment is at at all time low due to the FCC's fairly tepid net neutrality protections. But again, multi-billion-dollar spectrum purchases, billion-dollar gigabit fiber deployments, and the hundreds of billions being tossed around on megamergers all say otherwise.

The latest case in point: a new report by Deutsche Bank Markets Research highlights how the same ISPs that claim broadband investment is in the tank are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fiber needed to fuel fifth-generation wireless (5G) and smart city IoT technologies. AT&T and Verizon, usually the first companies you'll see whining about how net neutrality ruined Christmas, are at the front of the pack:

“Telecoms have become much more public signaling their intent to increase fiber investment, with AT&T and Verizon leading the spending ramp,” said Deutsche Bank Markets Research..."After establishing its “One Fiber” initiative, Verizon signed two key fiber supply deals: it will spend $1 billion with Corning to buy 1.5 million miles of fiber over three years and a $300 million deal with Prysmian to buy 1 million miles of fiber over 3 years. AT&T is being no less aggressive....What’s driving the ongoing fiber expansion plans is the ongoing mission to have converged networks that simultaneously support FTTH and 5G wireless services.

Verizon and AT&T's investment is paralleled by France's Altice, which has been gobbling up US cable companies and plans to upgrade their entire footprint to fiber to the home over the next few years (clearly net neutrality rules simply terrified them). Comcast, another big pusher of the investment apocalypse narrative, is also tripping over itself to spend millions on additional fiber and DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades. All told, the bank estimates that this investment explosion should reach $175 billion over the next decade as these companies position themselves for the wireless smart cities of tomorrow. And it's only accelerating:

"Deutsche Bank said in order achieve these goals, its “proprietary top-down fiber model suggests spending on fiber to the home will total ~$175B over the next decade (an additional $25-30B will likely go towards 5G).” Verizon and AT&T are clearly leading this charge with plans to either build out and augment existing fiber routes by building their own facilities, renting, or purchasing regional assets. “Telecom/cable companies are increasingly talking about the convergence of fiber to the home and the 5G rollout as one large investment cycle that will likely ramp further in 2018,” Deutsche Bank said.

That is, if you're playing along at home, not a fucking slowdown, and anybody that continues to push this flimsy narrative is either lying to you, or has been duped by years of lobbyist nonsense. Of course industry executives have been quietly admitting the net neutrality induced investment apocalypse has been bullshit all along, but with their other hand they've been paying an army of economists, astroturfers, think tankers, fauxcademics and other policy voices to claim otherwise -- all in the hopes of gutting what's already tepid regulatory oversight of one the least competitive industries in America.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: ajit pai, broadband, fcc, investment, net neutrality, wireless
Companies: altice, at&t, comcast, deutsche bank, verizon


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 11:02am

    Re: I don't see that.

    "definitely it might have been". I should have stopped right there. This article is trying to respond to nebulous claims like these with facts and figures and yet after reading it you just go right back to what you thought before you read it.

    there is a difference between investment and return of investment which is what i think you meant to say. does net neutrality potentially limit ROI? of course, it limits the crazy tactics ISPs might use to get more revenue from people. Does it stop ISPs from investing in their own industry? abso-fucking-lutely-not.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.