Have you ever had the feeling that your cable company was telling you one thing, but acted in a way that appeared to contradict what you were being told?
Rob Pegoraro spells out in YAHOO! Tech how cable and telecom companies are doing just that in a powerful and well-reported piece about telecom heavily investing in broadband expansion.
The backdrop to all this expansion has been happening as the public waits for an appeals court ruling that will decide a lawsuit big cable and telecom companies filed against the Federal Communications Commission. Large broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon are challenging the FCC’s authority to impose rate regulation and net neutrality rules, treating the Internet as a public utility.
(Psssst…guess what? The Internet is a public utility.)
For months, we’ve been hearing from big cable companies, lobbyists and their spokesman hacks that net neutrality rules will cripple innovation and investing across the industry.
Check out the bullet list (and hyperlinks) in Pegoraro’s story that spells out what’s really been going down:
The important part here, however, is that telecom investment has not ground to a halt since the imposition of those rules. That undermines an important argument against net neutrality — that these rules would eat away at the value of broadband service and cause ISPs to stop investing in it. Let’s consider the news thus far:
- Verizon has sold its Fios service in some markets to Frontier Communications (the latter firm then botched much of the switchover), but it’s also taken the surprising step o f expanding Fios across Boston, six years after declaring that it was done bringing that fiber-optic service to new markets. It’s also rushing to get 5G wireless broadband into the market.
- AT&T said in a 2014 FCC filing that reclassifying internet providers as common carriers would “abruptly stall the virtuous circle of investment and innovation that has propelled the United States to the forefront of the broadband revolution.” It’s since stepped up its U-Verse fiber service expansion; by January, that network had passed 500,000 miles.
- Comcast (CMCSA) has been rolling out gigabit fiber service in such markets as Atlanta. (At the cable industry’s INTX show in Boston last month, the Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray asked CEO Brian Roberts to specify investments foregone because of net-neutrality uncertainty; he didn’t name any but did suggest that financing was harder to come by.)
- The FCC has received 99 bids for its “incentive auction,”a reshuffling of the airwaves that will see spectrum unused or underused by broadcasters returned to the government and then sold to buyers, with broadcasters getting a share of the proceeds. The bidders include Comcast, AT&T and Verizon as well as T-Mobile (TMUS) and Dish Network (DISH).
(For more along these lines, see the reality-check provided by Consumerists’s Kate Cox this February.)
More than 4 million people wrote to the FCC in support of bringing about net neutrality, and right after the agency passed its rules last February, the pissing and moaning began.
Mark W. Davis, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, claimed in an opinion piece in U.S. News that large broadband providers would find the rules “onerous” and would discourage investment. As for smaller providers, Davis predicted, “No doubt, many will go out of business, reducing competition and service.”
Nope, didn’t happen.
This kind of half-baked thinking even spilled onto the bloodied floor of Republican presidential primary this election cycle. Check out this piece on Jeb Bush saying how he’d roll the FCC (along with their stinkin net neutrality rules if he were elected president.)
No you won’t Jeb. Because you and your homegirl Carly Fiorina brought new meaning to term one percenter in this election cycle – as in, only one percent of the voters thought anything you were saying made any sense.
The appeals court ruling is expected any day now, but it will likely not be the last word on net neutrality. Many analysts believe that no matter how the court rules, the case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.