Over the past weeks, net neutrality has been the talk among top industry providers beginning with President Obama's call for the elimination of internet 'fast lanes.' This past November, Obama made demands for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet access and to rewrite the service more as a utility, like water or electric services.
Immediately after the White House announcement, top Internet service providers, such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon, experienced large drops in cable shares. Since that time, shares have been recovering.
With net neutrality leaning towards a breakthrough, the future of broadband Internet investing has been the conversation. Some providers have commented that the possible shift in classifications could drastically effect the outcome of infrastructure investments. Time Warner Cable CEO, Rob Marcus, negatively commented on the switch at a UBS conference earlier this month. While, Verizon feels that not much will change in the industry and has explained that they will do all that they can to continue investing in their product; given that the FCC will not be aiming to regulate rates.
The demand for net neutrality has been a move to open current restrictions in broadband Internet networks put in place by Internet providers. Net neutrality would shift industry providers away from their tiered systems, which limit Internet access, and allow for an equal playing field. Much focus has been on what will be the incentive for continual investments in service, if access becomes equalized. Industry leaders express that with the opening of access, competitiveness between Internet providers will lessen and financial gain will become compromised through the elimination of restricted internet access connections and services.
On the reverse side, others feel that since rate regulations will not be implemented, there are still reasons to invest and causes for growth. Furthering this notion and despite possibilities of net neutrality, providers like Verizon and Time Warner Cable are finding reasons to continue that growth and are currently expanding their networks.