Public Knowledge Opposes FCC Move to Undermine Broadband Competition in Multi-tenant Buildings

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling to reduce barriers to competitive broadband choices for consumers living in multi-tenant buildings, like apartments. Public Knowledge has long supported efforts to remove barriers to deployment and facilitate greater choice for residents of these buildings.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“While the Commission has historically recognized the importance of access to competitive broadband providers for all Americans, its policies over the years have typically fallen short of ensuring full competitive access to multi-tenant buildings. By permitting exclusive marketing and wiring arrangements and only prohibiting certain kinds of contractual arrangements, the Commission has undermined competition while purporting to promote it.

“Better policies would prioritize the needs of tenants over the financial interests of landlords and incumbent service providers. But rather than revisiting its approach, the Commission here proposes to double down, making it clear that for many tenants, access to competitive providers will remain a purely theoretical right, while asserting that its policies preempt state or local laws that seek to give a tenant's right to competitive providers more substance. In particular, the Commission has declared that a San Francisco ordinance giving competitive providers access to existing wiring is preempted. 

“Cities like San Francisco are working to close the digital divide and ensure affordable and reliable internet access to all of their residents, especially low-income and minority populations who are already struggling to find affordable housing and necessities. Giving tenants meaningful broadband choice where it is available and the opportunity to pay lower costs is a key part of this effort, and the FCC should be working with cities to achieve the public interest, rather than against them. Unfortunately, this latest Commission action is consistent with its recent efforts to preempt states from enacting meaningful net neutrality rules, and to limit state and local authority over small cell permitting.”

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