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Telecom/Cable Lead Progressive Policy Institute Capex Index

The largest telecom and cable companies account for the largest share of domestic capital expenditures among U.S. companies, according to the Progressive Policy Institute's 2015 "Investment Heroes" report, which is based on 2014 capex.

The full report is being released later Monday, but B&C got an early look at some of the top takeaways.

Among the top 25 Heroes on the list, the telecom and cable sector companies–AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable—collectively accounted for $48.7 billion in investment (up 5.5% from the year before) toward a total of $172 billion for all 25 companies (up 12.7% from 2014).

AT&T and Verizon make up the lion's share of that telecom/cable total at $21 billion and $16 billion, respectively, grabbing the top two spots on the top 25 Heroes list.

Energy production/mining sector companies are second among sectors at $43.6 billion, followed by the Internet/tech sector at $29.2 billion, powered by Google at $10.7 billion.

The top five companies were AT&T, Verizon, Exxon Mobile ($12.4 billion), Google and Chevron ($10 billion).

They are "Heroes," says PPI, because "their capital spending helps to raise productivity and wages across the economy," adding: "The telecom and cable sector is once again leading the pack and driving U.S. investment."

PII, no fan of the FCC's Title II ISP reclassification, signaled that the report suggests a light touch regulatory approach is better, adding that in the first half of 2015, those telecom companies are spending at an 11% slower rate, "which could be due to higher levels of regulation."

Cable and phone companies have argued that Title II will depress investment, while FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said he thinks not, citing some industry execs who have told Wall Street they are still going to invest. The counter argument is that while companies are not going to stop investing, it is hard to gauge at what level they might invest under a non-Title II regulatory regime.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.