Monday, October 22, 2018

U.S. Broadband Investment Climbs in 2017

Broadband investment by service providers grew in 2017, according to new research by USTelecom.

USTelecom’s annual broadband capital expenditure report (1996-2017) shows broadband provider capital expenditures grew to $76.3 billion in 2017, compared to $74.8 billion in 2016, an increase of $1.5 billion.

What might strike many observers is the relative constancy of such investments since 2007, though, after the dip associated with the Great Recession of 2008. Significantly, the data exclude any capitalized investment by service providers to subsidize mobile phones.

The figures do not appear to be indexed for inflation, though inflation has been quite tame in recent years, so the results--not adjusted for inflation--might not differ much from an adjusted view.

The 2017 increase comes after a two-year decline during which annual broadband capital expenditures fell a total of $3.2 billion, from $78.0 billion in 2014 to $74.8 billion in 2016.

This spending dip began when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to impose common carrier regulatory classification—commonly known as Title II—on broadband providers in 2015, USTelecom says. Others dispute that notion, of course.

“Growth returned after a series of pro-investment steps taken by the FCC and Congress, including the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, the tech transition order and tax reform,” UST says.  While many factors are at play, the parallel shifts in policy and capex suggest that policy expectations played a role.

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