Telecom/Cable Sector Remains Atop PPI Capex Index

But sector's capital expenditures down 1.3% in 2015; report cites 'regulatory uncertainty' among causes
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The Progressive Policy Institute has named its Top 25 investment heroes for 2016 and, as was the case in last year's report, the telecom/cable sector had the lion's share of domestic capital expenditures at $48 billion, with the energy sector next at 33.8 billion.

The Top 25 is calculated according to "estimated domestic investment in their most recent fiscal year" -- 2015 in this case.

The list's telecom/cable sector comprised the same four companies as last year -- AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. Together, they cut capex by 1.3% in 2015, which PPI ascribes to "increased regulatory uncertainty" combined with normal business decisions, such as Verizon investing less in traditional wireline as it moves more into wireless, for example.

"The fact that the telecom and cable companies manage to stay on the top of the list reflects the rapid pace of innovation in the industry and the desire to meet growing demand for high-speed broadband," PPI said.

ISPs have long argued that the threat -- realized in mid-2015 -- to reclassify broadband as a Title II service would depress investment. PPI is also historically no fan of the FCC's Title II ISP reclassification.

AT&T again topped the list, with $18.7 billion in capital expenditures, though that represented an 11.6% reduction in investment compared with fiscal year 2014.

Verizon followed in second place, with 2015 capex of $16.5 billion. The telco's spending was up 3.4% due to boosts in domestic wireless, which overset declines in spending on traditional wireline.

Comcast weighed in at No. 8 (unchanged from last year) with $8.3 billion in capex, while Time Warner Cable was No. 21 -- down from No. 19 in last year's report -- with capital expenditures of $4.5 billion.

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