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Telecom/Cable Capex Is Net Downer in 2015

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 telecom/cable sector comprises 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 -- 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," said PPI.

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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 tops the list with $18.7 billion in capital expenditures (Capex), followed by Verizon at $16.5 billion.

AT&T led the list both this year and last, but with a "significant" reduction in investment this year (down 11.6%).

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Verizon's spending was up 3.4% thanks to boosts in domestic wireless, which overset declines in spending on traditional wireline.

Comcast weighs in at number eight (unchanged from last year) with $8.3 billion in Capex, while Time Warner Cable was number 21 (down from number 19 in last year's report) at $4.5 billion.