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Why net rules no longer an investment barrier: AT&T

AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said Monday the new FCC net-neutrality rules will be changed by the courts or Congress.

Under this operating principle, he said the company is moving forward with $18 billion of broadband investments. (Tweet This)

Before the Federal Communications Commission voted in February to regulate the Internet as a utility, Stephenson had said AT&T would pause new investments to see what the rules were going to be.

The measure, which is backed by President Barack Obama, passed with a 3-2 vote along party lines at the end of February.

Internet providers, including AT&T, have since sued the government. Comcast, CNBC's owner, also opposed the new rules.

"We have seen the way the rules came out, ... and as we read those rules we do believe they are subject to modification by the courts" or by Congress, Stephenson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"So we've said we're going to invest around $18 billion this year. That will allow us to deploy a wireless broadband solution to 13 million homes around the U.S.," he said. "That compares to about $22 billion last year."

AT&T is still awaiting a regulatory decision concerning its proposed $48.5 billion buyout of DirecTV, which was signed a year ago Monday.

"We think the deal gets done. The conversations have been productive," Stephenson said. "We still feel like this thing will progress. We still feel like we're on target for having it close in the second quarter."

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