Net Neutrality Hasn’t Stopped Charter From Investing

In the heated lead-up to the FCC’s vote on new net neutrality rules, the cable and telecom industry repeatedly made claims that the new regulations would harm investment and curb innovation. But yet another top cable CEO is now saying that no, net neutrality isn’t having a negative effect on its network investments.

Charter Communications is currently buying Time Warner Cable in a deal worth around $55 billion, and Charter CEO Tom Rutledge recently met with FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to chat about the merger.

The neutrality rules, which don’t actually go into effect until later this month, reclassify broadband services as a Title II common carrier, making them subject to the same regulatory control as telephone services. Opponents of the change argue that affected companies will be forced to reduce their investments in new technologies and the building out and improvement of their communications networks.

But according to Reuters, Rutledge told Wheeler that “the commission’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II has not altered Charter’s approach of investing significantly in its network to deliver cutting edge services.”

Rutledge’s comment is in line with that of other cable CEOs who have also stated that reclassification won’t stop them from investing and innovating.

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit recently told a group of analysts that Title II reclassification “hasn’t affected the way we have been doing our business or will do our business.”

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus similarly stated about Title II that “I think you won’t see a change in the way we do business.”

While there are numerous lawsuits currently trying to neuter the neutrality changes, most of them have been filed by industry trade groups — like the NCTA, the CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association — rather than by the big telecom players directly affected.

One of the few marquee companies to involve itself in this slate of suits is AT&T. CEO Randall Stephenson recently explained that his company isn’t making good on its pre-neutrality-vote threat to stop investing because it believes the rules will be overturned by the courts.

“Based on our reading of the Title II order that came out, we’re operating and we’re investing under the scenario that these rules will probably be changed,” Stephenson explained. “We don’t think this rulemaking is sustainable from a legal standpoint, but the courts will decide that.”

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