FCC Prepares to Rule on Broadband

2 minute read

Here are the agency’s three anticipated actions and why they matter.

The National Apartment Association (NAA) recently participated in a coalition effort to provide comment on the latest Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to refresh the federal government’s understanding of broadband access in the rental housing industry.

On January 21, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared a proposed Order and Declaratory Ruling with fellow FCC colleagues aimed at promoting and increasing broadband services in multifamily properties. Details of the ruling are yet to be disclosed as FCC procedure does not require that information be made public. However, it is anticipated that the FCC will take the following actions:

  • Prohibit broadband providers from entering into graduated revenue sharing agreements or exclusive revenue sharing agreements with a building owner;
  • Require broadband providers to disclose to renters if an exclusive marketing arrangement is in place with the building owner; and
  • Clarify that existing rules prohibit sale-and-leaseback wiring arrangements.

For the proposed ruling to take effect, the current four-member commission would need to agree unanimously. Without support from all commissioners, the chair would need to use a different procedure for consideration and potentially wait until a fifth commissioner is confirmed for the role.

In September, the media and broadband regulator issued a request to update the record on a 2019 FCC proceeding that examined competition and access for broadband service providers in multifamily properties, referred to as multiple tenant environments (MTEs). In particular, the FCC sought data on specific commercial activities like revenue sharing agreements, exclusive wiring arrangements and exclusive marketing arrangements between broadband service providers and MTEs. At the core of the FCC’s efforts is a mission to offer more choice in internet and cable options for low-income renters.

A recent NAA survey highlighted the accessibility and availability of high-speed, high-quality broadband service. The results of the survey do not reflect a need for additional regulation and, in fact, suggest that residents are served far better as a result of the commercial activities under the scrutiny of the FCC. NAA and its coalition partners will continue to work with the FCC to maintain existing commercial partnerships between broadband providers and the apartment industry.

For more information on broadband and telecommunications issues, please reach out to Sam Gilboard, NAA’s Senior Manager of Public Policy.