FCC’s Net Neutrality kill didn’t increase broadband investment

Chris Burns - Jan 25, 2019, 12:06 pm CDT
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FCC’s Net Neutrality kill didn’t increase broadband investment

There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to the fallout after the FCC’s kill of Net Neutrality. We expected the worst – that internet providers would start making companies pay for fast lanes and that lower-class content would get caught behind throttled speed internet. That didn’t happen – or at least it didn’t happen to the degree to which we were worried, yet. The bad new is that none of the GOOD stuff the FCC promised has happened.

When suggesting we needed to do away with Net Neutrality, the FCC’s head Ajit Pai said that broadband investment would increase as a result. In February of 2018, the spin began. As noted by ArsTechnica, Pai began suggesting that broadband deployments had begun as a direct result of the axing of Net Neutrality protections. In reality, said deployments were already underway several years before the Net Neutrality vote occurred – back when Barack Obama was still president.

Fast forward to this month, here in January of 2019, and the first important full year earnings report is in, and it’s from Comcast. Comcast provides high speed internet service with its brand Xfinity, and is one of the most major investors in broadband in the United States. We can see evidence of broadband investment in Comcast’s capital expenditures metric.

Expenditures went up year-over-year in the fourth quarter of their financial year 2018 – which is good. But each of the preceding three quarters, and the year as a whole, y-o-y investment declined. Comcast in the United State’s biggest home internet provider.

Up next we’ll see deployment of 5G mobile web network infrastructure with mobile web carriers. If I was a betting man, I’d put money on the idea that Pai will take credit for any increases in spending here, regardless of the fact that they’d have taken place with or without Net Neutrality rules in effect. Stay tuned and see!


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