A 2012 blog article from Stop The Cap quotes the Wall Street Journal (without a link) as saying:

Cable executives and analysts say that about 90% of the money cable operators charge for broadband goes straight to gross profits, since there are minimal operational costs for providing Internet service.

It appears to be referring to 2011 figures.

A 2015 Huffington Post opinion piece claimed (with calculations) that Time-Warner was earning 97% profit margin on their high-speed internet service in 2013:

In our Petition for Investigation of Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Comcast, we point out that TWC’s High-Speed Internet service has a 97 percent profit margin and a number of people asked how that statistic was derived. Simple. Time Warner Cable provides the information, (with some caveats).

This references SEC filings but I don't know anything about these types of records, so I don't feel like I can take it at face value.

Are broadband providers in the USA earning 90%+ profit margins on their supply of broadband internet services? (Or, at least, were they around 2011-2013?)

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    Does the term "gross profits" here mean before capital expenditure? Someone has to pay for the infrastructure, and the quote only mentions operational costs. Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:32
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    @WeatherVane: The quote is talking about broadband services from a cable television company, where the lion's share of the capital expenditure can be hand-waved away as related to television services. I suspect that add-on services do have very high profit margins. Of course the truth is that many customers consider the internet connection to be the primary service and television bundle, if they have one, to be the add-on.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:55
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    @BenVoigt I see, like in the old days when (UK) railways were built for freight, and passengers were the icing on the cake. When the freight stopped, they could not be run for profit. So when we stop watching TV... the taxpayer will pay for the infrastructure? Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:57
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    @WeatherVane: Exactly. And it is a fallacy to try to apply these claims to all internet providers as the question title does, since many do not have existing cable and/or phone line (for DSL) infrastructure to freeload on top of.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 15:00
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    So the link says that for cable companies, who already had infrastructure in the ground plus marketing and customer service costs covered by customers paying for cable TV, had a very large margin on additionally providing broadband to their cable TV customers. That is not the same as saying broadband internet service providers in general were making 90%+ profit margins, or indeed that cable TV companies were making 90%+ profit margins overall, or that anyone was making 90%+ profit margins on potential broadband customers not already receiving cable TV.
    – Henry
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 15:47


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