At an event sponsored by the Free State Foundation, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell questioned recent FCC assertions that the agency’s net neutrality rules have stimulated economic investment, as he pointed to statistics showing that telecom-related capital expenditures remained flat between 2010 and 2011. The net neutrality rules are currently under review by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals where the FCC filed a brief last month arguing, in part, that the rules have spurred greater economic investment. In his remarks, McDowell, a Republican, observed that, at the FCC, “you have five unelected Washington bureaucrats overseeing perhaps about one-sixth of the U.S. economy, having an indirect effect on the rest of the U.S. economy, because the rest of the economy rides on the rails of the Internet economy.” Citing statistics supplied by USTelecom, McDowell noted that telecom-related capital expenditures in the U.S. remained flat at $66 billion between 2010—the year in which the net neutrality rules were approved—and 2011. While questioning whether the net neutrality order had an impact on “frozen” cap ex spending, McDowell suggested that the wireless spectrum crunch may have had an effect but stipulated: “that should be driving more cap ex for the construction of towers.” Despite acknowledging that “$66 billion is a robust figure,” McDowell told his audience “we don’t want it to be a figure frozen, we want to see it grow.” Although McDowell further speculated that the cause “could be . . . regulatory uncertainty in general, it could be some other issue, or it’s just because of the FCC’s net neutrality order,” he denied claims that the net neutrality order was responsible for spurring a revolution in Internet applications and content, claiming that that revolution “was already underway.”