Charter admitted last year that Title II never really hurt its business

Tom Rutledge
Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge told investors a year ago that Title II regulations never really curtailed his company's investments in its networks.

While Charter Communications urged the FCC to assume its current course of dismantling Title II regulation of internet service providers by claiming the rules would ultimately discourage network investment, the No. 2 U.S. cable company has been caught on record admitting last year that the regime never really hurt its business. 

Credit again goes to Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin, who has uncovered a number of interesting position-statement flip-flops among leading U.S. cable executives regarding the issue of net neutrality. 

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Indeed, it was at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in 2016 during which Rutledge noted, "Title II, it didn't really hurt us; it hasn't hurt us.” He added that the FCC regime, adopted in 2015, merely has the “potential” to harm the company’s business. 

In filings to the FCC in July, Charter said Title II’s “broad and vague prohibitions” had caused “broadband providers to reconsider innovations and investments out of concern that regulators could squelch, or force significant modifications to, those ventures after funds had been expended.”

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But as public advocacy group Free Press noted, Charter’s capital expenditures rose 17% last year in the wake of closing its Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks acquisitions. And last week, Charter unveiled the first deployment of a footprint-wide plan to upgrade its network to DOCSIS 3.1 standards. 

Yesterday, with the now Republican-led FCC just days away from dismantling Title II, Rutledge was back on the UBS stage for the 2017 version of the conference, lauding the agency’s move to a more “light-touch” rules regime.