Comcast already on pace to spend $50B on networks, despite Title II rollback promise

Comcast Xfinity store in Denver
Comcast has been on a quest to upgrade its networks to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard. (Comcast)

Despite tying a projected five-year capital expenditure figure of $50 billion to the FCC’s recent decision to roll back its net neutrality mandates, an analysis of Comcast’s capex reveals that the top U.S. cable operator was on track to spend about that much even before the agency voted to deregulate. 

On Dec. 20, just days after the Republican-led FCC Commission voted to roll back its Title II regulations adopted two years prior, and hours after the Congress reduced the corporate tax burden, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts issued a statement, pledging $1,000 bonuses to about 100,000 “eligible frontline and nonexecutive employees.”

Roberts also pledged that Comcast would spend $50 billion over the next five years “investing in infrastructure to radically improve and extend our broadband plant and capacity, and our television, film and theme park offerings.”

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According to figures provided to Fierce by MoffettNathanson last year, Comcast’s overall capex increased 7.3% to $7.597 billion in 2016, and it was projected to grow to $8.445 billion in 2017, a 10.4% increase. Compounding the latter rate of growth over the next five years would exceed $50 billion in capex.

Meanwhile, in its own analysis based on Comcast’s most recent capex figure, the $2.4 billion spent in the third quarter of 2017, Ars Technica concludes that the operator would spend around $48 billion over the next five years if its spending held steady at that rate. 

As Ars Technica noted, from the end of the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017, Comcast spent $9.4 billion on capex. 

Like other cable operators, Comcast has been on a quest to upgrade its networks to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard.