In 2017, activists warned that maintaining broadband’s two-year old Title II classification was the only way to avoid untold calamities, and that anything else would hasten the death of the Internet.

Of course, none of those dire predictions came to pass. In fact, since repealing Title II, broadband speeds and investment are up, and prices are down.

  • Access to gigabit broadband connections has increased by 80 percent; i
  • Inflation-adjusted broadband prices have decreased 12 percent; ii
  • Actual broadband speeds have increased at least 300 percent; and iii
  • Annual capital investment has increased 33 percent. iv

Given these results, one would think the Title II question is resolved, yet the FCC is again considering whether to apply Title II utility regulation to the Internet. At Comcast, as explained in our comments filed today, we believe the FCC’s latest proposal is deeply misguided and that the regulatory model for broadband must recognize the facts on the ground.

First, let’s be clear where Comcast agrees with the FCC’s proposal: broadband is essential. In fact, we have a low-cost program called Internet Essentials to connect everyone to the Internet.

But the oft-repeated truism that broadband plays an important—or even an “essential”—role in Americans’ lives is not, on its own, a rational justification to regulate a thriving and highly competitive marketplace like a public utility. Services like electricity, water, gas, and telephones historically have been regulated as utilities because they were poorly functioning monopolies. Meanwhile, many goods and services that are essential, including food and housing, are not regulated as public utilities—and no one seriously contends that they should be.

The question is not whether broadband service is essential, but whether the facts show significant and durable monopoly power justifying utility regulation like Title II. Any fair-minded look at today’s broadband marketplace – and the trends since 2017 – will see an industry far different from utilities like water or electricity and that no such regulation is justified for broadband.


Since 2017, according to official U.S. government data, broadband prices in the U.S. have declined 12% when adjusted for inflation while overall inflation increased by 19%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CPI (Series IDs CUUR0000SA0, CUUR0000SEEE03).

Analysis of the FCC’s broadband pricing data also shows that between 2017 and 2022 the weighted median price of 100 Mbps plans fell by $15. 

Compare these trends to water and electricity, where consumers pay more even though service quality and investment are in terrible shape.

Source: BLS, CPI (Urban Consumers Series).

Source: BLS, Consumer Expenditure Survey (2022).


When was the last time you saw Super Bowl commercials from water utilities competing for your business? The fundamental differentiator between broadband and public utilities like water is competition. Facilities-based competition is virtually non-existent in the public utility sector. For example, households across the country have only one water company. In stark contrast, broadband competition and new entry is extensive and growing. 

Cable providers will soon offer multi-gigabit symmetrical service to over 90% of Americans. Fiber companies are expanding at the rate of over 4.5 million locations annually, ultimately reaching 92 million locations according to analyst figures. Fixed wireless providers also targeted Super Bowl ads at cable customers and now have over 5% of all subscribers – up from almost nothing a few years ago. Today 60% of U.S. households have two or more choices of fixed terrestrial broadband providers offering 100/20 Mbps speeds. On top of that, three national providers deliver 5G mobile broadband service to hundreds of millions of Americans, and a satellite network is connecting homes with download speeds well above 100 Mbps. 

It is indisputable: cable, telco, fixed wireless, mobile, and satellite providers all are competing head-to-head for broadband customers. There is widespread entry and network expansion. Broadband is not a static natural monopoly like the water or electric company.


Broadband providers have been heavily investing in world-class service and network expansion, totaling $102 billion in 2022 alone. At Comcast, we are in the midst of a system-wide upgrade to deliver multi-gigabit symmetrical service to our entire footprint.

Source: USTelecom 2022 Broadband Capex Report.

As a nation, we are steadily closing the deployment gap: the FCC’s newest data shows that over 92% of units have 100/20 Mbps or better broadband access. Even more astounding, the number of Americans with access to gigabit broadband has jumped since 2017 from below 50% to over 90%.

Source: FCC Form 477 (2017) and Broadband Data Collection (2023).

Source: FCC Form 477 (2017) and Broadband Data Collection (2023).

Strong broadband investment and continuously improving networks are nothing like the water and electricity industries to which the FCC compares broadband. In fact, there’s a “staggering” water and electricity underinvestment gap that’s a result of decades of utility-style regulation like Title II. That has led to crumbling infrastructures – notably, water systems showed a 27% increase in water main break rates between 2012 and 2018, equivalent to a water main break every two minutes, and chronic underinvestment in energy infrastructure has left the nation’s power grids less resilient and more prone to blackouts and even devasting wildfires.


Broadband providers’ massive network investments have rapidly increased speeds experienced by consumers. During the first two years of COVID (March 2020 – March 2022), under heavy network demand for home-based work, school, and entertainment, Ookla measured average broadband speeds increasing by 62%. This is a far cry from the European experience of regulators asking companies and consumers to limit their loads on the network.

Source: Ookla.

According to the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program, Comcast delivers 115% of the speeds customers purchase.


It is stunning that the FCC points over and over again to water and electricity regulation as the role models for Internet regulation. Common sense says a 1930s law rooted in monopoly regulation is not the right fit for Twenty-first Century broadband in the midst of fierce competition, deflationary prices, speed upgrades, and heavy investment. 

Comcast has long supported open Internet principles. If there are specific concerns the FCC has – such as national security questions that it feels it needs to address – then the agency should ask Congress for clear authority to fix the problem, as this is an area where Congress has been very responsive. But repurposing Title II for the vibrant broadband ecosystem is reckless and unwise.

David Don is SVP, Public Policy at Comcast.

i Calculated using FCC Form 477 data as of December 2017, based on percentage of census blocks in which at least one location has access to broadband service with gigabit download speeds, and FCC Broadband Data Collection data as of June 2023, based on percentage of Broadband Serviceable Units with access to at least gigabit download speeds. See FCC, Fixed Broadband Deployment Data from FCC Form 477, (last updated Dec. 29, 2022); FCC, FCC National Broadband Map: Data Download, (last updated Nov. 28, 2023).

ii U.S. Bureau of Lab. Stats., Consumer Price Index Databases, (last visited Nov. 14, 2023); see also U.S. Bureau of Lab. Stats., Databases, Tables, & Calculators by Subject: Series CUUR0000SEEE03, (last visited Dec. 4, 2023).

iii Ookla, Speedtest Global Index, (last visited Nov. 14, 2023).

iv USTelecom, 2022 Broadband Capex Report (Sept. 8, 2023),