While carriers may have just spent north of $41 billion on the AWS-3 Spectrum auction. The new Net Neutrality rules that were established by the FCC, appear to kill the investment in mobile. At least according to the CTIA. For those unaware, CTIA stands for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.
The CTIA wrote a post yesterday titled "Setting the Record Straight: Auctions and Net Neutrality". In that post, CTIA VP Scott Bergmann wrote, "Far from providing evidence that wireless carriers are not concerned with Title II regulations, the bidding in the AWS-3 auction reflects providers' pent-up demand for more licensed, exclusive use spectrum in order to meet Americans' growing mobile broadband usage."
Comcast has also said that the FCC's new rules in Title II could "greatly harm investment", then right after that they announced a new 2Gbps fiber network it plans to rollout nationwide. The FCC made their net neutrality vote final on February 26th. They used the recent AWS-3 auction to support their claim that the new rules wouldn't harm investment in the mobile industry.
It's clear that the carriers and even the ISPs are starting to get worried about investment in the net neutrality age. However, the FCC is firm on its stance in saying that it won't harm investment. It even points to Verizon, who has spent billion in the industry in the past 15 years building out their network and enhancing it as well. The FCC stated that Verizon has "invested tens of billions of dollars in deploying mobile wireless services since being subject to the 700MHz C Block open access rules, which overlap in significant parts with the open Internet rules we adopt today… Finally, the recent AWS auction, conducted under the prospect of Title II regulation, generated bids (net of bidding credits) of more than $41 billion–further demonstrating that robust investment is not inconsistent with a light-touch Title II regime."
We'll learn more once the 600MHz spectrum auction gets under way in 2016. As that should be a pretty high bidding auction. Especially given how desperate some carriers are for more low-band spectrum for better building penetration. We'll have to wait and see who comes away the big winner there, as well as what the carriers, as well as Dish, spends at that auction.