July 18, 2022
Broadband Providers Invested $86B in Communications Infrastructure
Investment Soars to Highest Level in Twenty Years
America’s broadband industry investment reached a twenty-year high in 2021, driving $86 billion in capital expenditures into the nation’s communications infrastructure. The improvements are making U.S. broadband networks faster and more widely available.
The 2021 capital influx is a recent high-water mark but it stands on the shoulders of decades of continued investment into America’s world-leading communications infrastructure. Since 1996, U.S. providers have invested more than $2 TRILLION into their networks and communities.
These investments are paying off for consumers. Americans use their networks to communicate in ways unimaginable in 1996— paying with millions trading daily commutes to online connections for nearly every aspect of modern life—paying lower prices to do so. Broadband prices continue to drop and the value of each broadband buck for consumers has never been higher, given that the cost of nearly all other goods and services rose significantly.
USTelecom’s capital expenditures (capex) survey collects capital expenditures data for wireline communications, wireless communications, and cable broadband providers in order to approximate an industry aggregate. The companies include the major Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs), wireless providers, Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) and Cable Companies. This study does not include capex expenditures of smaller wireline broadband providers or electric cooperatives, nor does it include satellite broadband provision. For sake of consistency, and the difficulty in obtaining reliable data, those broadband competitors remain outside the scope of our calculation though we estimate their capex contributions are at least $2 billion. Because we exclude these participants, the $86 billion we report today is a conservative estimate of US telecommunications capital expenditures.