Letter: Screed against cable broadband providers paints wildly misleading picture

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2017, file photo, the seal of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seen before an FCC meeting to vote on net neutrality in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Roger Timmerman’s screed against cable broadband providers (“If you’re unhappy with your internet service, you’ll want Gigi Sohn on the FCC”) must come as a surprise to the hundreds of thousands of Utah families who rely on our state’s fast, world-class cable broadband networks every day — not to mention the 86% of American consumers who rated their broadband service throughout the pandemic as excellent or good.

In the Salt Lake City metro area, gigabit-capable cable broadband networks reach 97% of homes. No other broadband technology — including fiber — has achieved anywhere close to this scale of deployment. All told, 88% of American households can now access gigabit networks.

Contrary to Timmerman’s easily disprovable claims about the industry’s lack of “serious investment,” cable broadband providers invested $17 billion in network infrastructure last year alone, and routinely rank among corporate America’s largest capital investors year after year after year.

These investments are the reason networks are getting faster: Nationwide, average download speeds for wired broadband now exceed 209 Mbps. For context, that’s roughly 40 times faster than what Netflix requires for HD streaming.

To be sure, access gaps persist in some rural areas where there are fewer customers per mile to support the cost of new infrastructure. That math problem has proven just as thorny for fiber ISPs as for cable companies. But help is on the way: the federal infrastructure bill just committed $42 billion to help fund new network buildouts in these unserved areas. And Congress wisely insisted on smart guardrails to make sure these dollars end up in the rural communities where they’re needed – not wasted subsidizing duplicative projects in already-wired communities.

Broadband providers’ massive investments in fast, reliable networks helped carry our communities through the pandemic. Pundits and policymakers should encourage more of the same rather than inventing false narratives to suit their ideological agendas.

Brian Dietz, Senior vice president, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association

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