FCC Urged To Restrict Deals Between Landlords And Broadband Providers

The Federal Communications Commission should prohibit broadband providers from forging deals with landlords that effectively limit tenants' options for internet service, the trade group Incompas urges.

“The Commission should act to prohibit the use of anticompetitive commercial arrangements between communications service providers and [apartment building] owners, including graduated revenue sharing agreements, exclusive wiring and marketing arrangements, and other provisions like building access agreements that lead to scarce rather than abundant broadband availability,” Incompas writes in comments filed with the FCC on Wednesday.

The organization represents small service providers as well as large tech companies like Google, Netflix and Facebook.

Incompas says in its filings that some of its members are unable to compete in apartment buildings, due to landlords' contracts with incumbent internet service providers.

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“Our member companies find that property owners are often unwilling to allow competitive broadband services in premises where they already have exclusive arrangements and revenue sharing agreements with incumbent providers,” Incompas writes. “In those cases, consumers and businesses lose out on the faster speeds, lower pricing, and better customer service that competitors offer.”

Since 2007, the FCC has prohibited exclusivity deals between landlords and cable and broadband providers. But the agency doesn't specifically prohibit arrangements regarding revenue sharing, or exclusive wiring agreements and exclusive marketing deals.

Last month, the FCC solicited comments from the public about how those three types of arrangements between landlords and service providers affect consumers' ability to access the internet.

The agency's move came several months after President Joe Biden issued a sweeping executive order aimed at promoting competition in broadband and other areas.

That order directed the FCC to consider passing new rules that would “prevent landlords and cable and Internet service providers from inhibiting tenants’ choices among providers.”

The cable lobbying group NCTA --The Internet & Television Association previously opposed restrictions on deals between landlords and broadband providers, arguing that new prohibitions “may inhibit investment and deployment in buildings.”

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