FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is set to rethink Obama’s net neutrality regulations, according to news reports something tech companies like Alphabet, Amazon , Facebook are against.
A big reason current net neutrality rules need to get the boot, says the head of the Federal Communications Commission, is that they’re curbing broadband investment in low-income neighborhoods — cutting off important information and services 21st-century citizens access via high-speed Internet.
But were these 2015 rules, which aimed to prevent companies that bring Internet into homes from favoring their own content over others, really the culprit?
A review of broadband investment over the past two years paints a more complicated picture. One study of the largest carriers, the basis for the FCC’s claim, does show investment fell over the two-year period the rules were in effect.
But that was largely due to AT&T. It’s blamed the Open Internet rules for decreased broadband investment. Analysts point out, however, that like other large carriers it was engaged in a competitive shift that likely played a role — two mammoth acquisitions including the $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner. At the same time, Comcast — another big spender of broadband investment — increased its outlays by double digits.
“You are going to hear a lot of posturing when it comes to the attempts to stifle some of those regulations,” said Tuna Amobi, an equity analyst at CFRA Research who tracks companies such as Comcast and Charter Communications (which want the rules repealed) and Netflix (which supports them).
“What we saw ultimately was that, frankly, it was more or less a lot of noise,” Amobi said. The market is simply too competitive not to invest, he says. “No one wants to be left behind.”
Disagreement over what actually happened since the rules were passed means…