Today, the Progressive Policy Institute released its 2013 list of Investment Heroes. This year, like last year, the telecom and cable sector is a big winner.

AT&T and Verizon once again lead the way in domestic investment, and telecom is second only to the booming energy sector in total U.S. investment. PPI shows that these two companies combined invested nearly $34.5 billion to build-out nationwide high-speed broadband networks and infrastructure. AT&T alone invested almost $19.5 billion. As a sector, telecommunications and cable invested $50.5 billion last year, over a third of the nearly $150 billion invested by the Fortune 150 last year. Such levels of investment are remarkable, but not surprising. With each passing day, Americans witness and benefit from the emergence of the nation’s “data-driven economy,” all driven by U.S. telecom and technology company capital investment. Our data-driven economy is at the forefront of creating new jobs in entirely new industries — like mobile apps — and is a driving force in improving cost structures and the delivery of services in sectors such as healthcare, education, and agriculture.

Broadband providers have done their part to improve the path to economic recovery, demonstrated by their significant investments in America.  The progress we’ve seen, however, needs to continue. Billions of dollars of additional private investment is necessary to bring ubiquitous high-speed broadband to every American.

For this to take place, government should adopt policies that create an environment for sustained investment. As PPI notes, government can ensure that upcoming FCC wireless spectrum auctions proceed in an open manner and allow all carriers to bid equally and without restrictions. No one company should be given favored treatment to the disadvantage of its competitors. Moreover, government can also proactively promote additional investment by eliminating existing regulatory barriers and helping to speed the upgrade and modernization of our nation’s antiquated telephone networks, so that more Americans can benefit from the high-speed Internet and video services that next generation broadband networks offer.

It is uncertain that the nearly $50.5 billion in existing telecom and cable investment will continue unless government helps promote additional regulatory and business certainty by adopting wise and timely pro-market investment policies. In the meantime, we owe our gratitude and thanks to the tech and telecom companies who invest in America and help spur innovation, create jobs, and contribute the nation’s economic growth.

Top 25 Nonfinancial Companies by Estimated U.S. Capital Expenditure

1. AT&T – $19.5 billion
2. Verizon Communications – $15.0 billion
3. Exxon Mobil – $12.2 billion
4. Chevron – $10.7 billion
5. Intel – $8.8 billion
6. Walmart Stores – $8.3 billion
7. Occidental Petroleum – $7.6 billion
8. ConocoPhillips – $6.1 billion
9. Exelon – $5.8 billion
10. Comcast – $5.7 billion
11. Duke Energy         – $5.4 billion
12. Hess – $4.7 billion
13. Sprint Nextel – $4.3 billion
14. Union Pacific Railroad – $3.7 billion
15. General Motors – $3.7 billion
16. Enterprise Products Partners – $3.6 billion
17. Time Warner Cable – $3.1 billion
18. Microsoft – $3.0 billion
19. Amazon – $2.9 billion
20. CenturyLink – $2.9 billion
21. Ford Motor – $2.7 billion
22. Walt Disney – $2.7 billion
23. FedEx         – $2.6 billion
24. Apple- $2.6 billion
25. Target – $2.3 billion

Total Economic Investment – $149.8 billion