When Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai cheated his way to a repeal of Net Neutrality, he justified allowing ISPs to decide to slow down the services you want to use by saying that doing so would encourage investment in network buildout, saving America from its sad status as one of the most expensive, slowest places to use the internet in the rich world.
But after a full year of neutracide, Comcast has made a liar out of Ajit Pai, reducing infrastructure spending by 3% in 2018, according to the company's latest earnings report.
Charter and Verizon are also expected to announce lowered capital expenditures for 2018.
Comcast's network spending should have risen in 2018 if predictions from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Comcast had been correct. Pai's net neutrality repeal took effect in June 2018. But the vote to repeal net neutrality rules was in December 2017, and Pai claimed in February 2018 that the repeal was already causing increased broadband investment.
Broadband industry lobby group USTelecom also claimed that network investment grew in 2017 because of the anticipated net neutrality repeal and other deregulatory moves. In December 2017, Comcast said the net neutrality repeal would allow for "more competition in the marketplace and increased investment and innovation."
Yet Comcast cable capital expenditures dropped year over year in each of the first three quarters of 2018. The expenditures did rise year over year in the fourth quarter, from $2.15 billion to $2.32 billion, but it wasn't enough to offset the full-year decline.
Sorry, Ajit: Comcast lowered cable investment despite net neutrality repeal [Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]
(Image: Ildar Sagdejev, CC-BY-SA)
America has some of the worst, most expensive broadband in the developed world, thanks to massive market concentration, grotesque regulatory capture, and systematic underinvestment in crumbling telcoms infrastructure.
On Oct 1, a coalition of public interest groups and states' attorneys general lost their appeal in a legal bid to block the FCC's dismantling of federal Net Neutrality protections, accomplished through a mixture of lies and fraud. It was a crushing defeat for Americans and American competitiveness and access to digital life.
I'm 100% in favor of pro-competitive regulation of Big Tech, and that is because I'm 100% in favor of pro-competitive regulation of all our hyper-concentrated, monopolistic industries.
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