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US Telecom Touts Broadband Investment; Industry and FCC Chairman Pai Link Growth to Deregulatory Policies

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WASHINGTON, June 10, 2019 — U.S. investment in broadband networks grew by approximately $3 billion in 2018, according to data released Monday by US Telecom.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said this is a result of “reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens” and updating rules “to match the modern communications marketplace.”

“We made it easier for broadband providers to transition from the copper networks of yesterday to the fiber networks of tomorrow,” said Pai. “We modernized our business data services regulations. We eliminated utility-style rules from the 1930s. And we made it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure by getting rid of unnecessary regulatory barriers at the federal, state, and local level.”

The data from US Telecom appears to show that capital investment decreased by $4 billion between 2014 and 2016, but increased by $6 billion between 2016 and 2018. The estimate for the total amount U.S. broadband providers invested in 2018 is $75 billion.

Many factors affect investment, such as technological developments and broader economic conditions. Pai used the release to highlight his point that the trend “reaffirms that our policies are working.”

US Telecom, which favors the chairman’s pro-deregulatory agenda, agreed. "Top line broadband capex data strongly suggest that the current pro-investment, pro-innovation, and pro-consumer policy environment is working."

Other positive outcomes from 2018 include a record amount of new fiber deployment and quadrupled small cell deployment. Additionally, average broadband speeds increased “substantially,” prompting Pai to claim that “the digital divide is closing.”

US Telecom’s release ascribed some of the growth in investment to the growth of 5G wireless networks, which will likely play an increasingly large role in the future.

(Graphic from US Telecom.)

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