As represented by the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), fixed wireless providers have welcomed an FCC initiative to promote competition and choice for broadband in apartments and office buildings.
“WISPA applauds FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on proposing a number of important changes,” Louis Peraertz, vice president of policy for WISPA, said. “WISPA members have long-sought to open up the underserved multidwelling and multitenant marketplace to more providers. “
On Jan. 21, Rosenworcel shared with her FCC colleagues a Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling that would promote competition and increase choice for broadband services for people living and working in multiple-tenant environments (MTEs). The measures, if adopted, would halt practices that evade long-existing FCC rules intended to allow tenants to choose their own provider, according to the federal agency.
“We believe that the chairwoman’s work represents great forward progress on the matter, which, when completed, should help consumers experience better and more affordable offerings for their broadband services,” Peraertz said.
According to Rosenworcel, with more than one-third of the U.S. population living in apartments, mobile home parks, condominiums and public housing, it is time to address practices that lock out broadband competition and consumer choice.
“Consumers deserve access to a choice of providers in their buildings,” Rosenworcel said. “I look forward to having my colleagues join me in lifting the obstacles to competitive choice for broadband for the millions of tenants across the nation.”
To promote broadband competition and deployment in MTEs, the Order and Declaratory Ruling, if adopted by a vote of the full commission, would prohibit providers from entering into graduated revenue sharing agreements or exclusive revenue sharing agreements with a building owner. It would require providers to disclose to tenants in plain language the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements that they have with building owners. It would eEnd a practice that circumvents the FCC’s cable inside wiring rules by clarifying that existing FCC rules prohibit sale-and-leaseback arrangements that effectively block access to alternative providers.
“The chairwoman’s proposal builds upon a 30-year record of Commission proceedings to promote competition in apartment buildings and other MTEs, including a long-standing ban on exclusive access contracts,” a statement from the federal agency reads. “Most recently, the Commission issued a Public Notice in September 2021 inviting a new round of comments in a proceeding examining competitive access to broadband in apartment and office buildings. The record revealed a pattern of new practices that inhibit competition, contrary to the Commission’s goals, and limit opportunities for competitive providers to offer service for apartment, condo and office building unit tenants. These practices could throttle consumer access to providers participating in the Commission’s affordable broadband programs such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit and its successor, the Affordable Connectivity Program.”