Sorry, FCC: Charter will lower investment after net neutrality repeal

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The Federal Communications Commission's quest to prove that killing network neutrality is somehow raising broadband investment recently focused on Charter Communications. Charter, the second largest US cable company after Comcast, "is investing more in its broadband network and workforce because of the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order [that repealed net neutrality rules] and last year's tax reform legislation," FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry claimed in a tweet Feb 8. But Charter raised its capital investment in 2017 while the net neutrality rules were in place. And with the repeal soon to take effect, Charter says it is preparing for a "meaningful decline" in spending on building and upgrading broadband networks.

This doesn't mean that Charter boosted investment because of the presence of net neutrality rules or that it is now lowering investment because of the repeal. That would be an overly simplistic conclusion, when the reality is that ISPs make investment decisions based on a variety of factors such as changes in customer demand and the peaks and valleys of technology upgrade cycles. But the opposite, equally simplistic conclusion—that broadband investment falls because of net neutrality rules and rises when net neutrality rules are repealed—is exactly what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his staff have repeatedly claimed despite what the evidence shows. This argument is what drove the FCC's public defense of its decision to eliminate popular rules that prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or speeding up Internet traffic in exchange for payment.


Sorry, FCC: Charter will lower investment after net neutrality repeal