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ICYMI: As Part of Biden's Competition Push, FCC Votes to Lift Restrictions on Broadband Availability in Apartments and Multi-Tenant Buildings

February 16, 2022

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to unlock broadband competition for those in multi-tenant buildings like apartments and office buildings—as called for in President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting Competition. The new rules prohibit building owners and broadband service providers from entering into "sweetheart deals" – revenue-sharing agreements that keep competitive providers out of buildings and limit purchasing options for tenants. Internet providers must also now inform tenants about the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements in plain language that is easily accessible. The FCC also voted to crack down on evasion of rules designed to increase competitors' ability to access building wiring to provide service.

"One third of this country live in multi-tenant buildings where there often is only one choice for a broadband provider, and no ability to shop for a better deal," said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. "The rules we adopt today will crack down on practices that prevent competition and effectively block a consumer's ability to get lower prices or higher quality services."

The move builds on the Biden administration's work to foster more competition in key industries to give consumers more choice, level the playing field for small businesses, and bring prices down over time.

Read more below:

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki: "Have you lived in an apartment building that only allowed ONE internet provider? Thanks to @POTUS Competition agenda, today @FCC voted to crack down on "sweetheart deals" between landlords & service providers. We are helping lower the price of internet for millions of Americans." [Tweet, 2/15/22]

White House Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese: "Exclusive revenue sharing and marketing agreements between landlords & internet providers leave millions with higher internet bills and just one choice of provider. Today's unanimous @FCC vote is a crucial milestone in our effort to reduce costs and increase competition." [Tweet, 2/15/22]

Bloomberg: U.S. FCC Votes to Boost Cable Competition in Apartment Buildings
[Todd Shields, 2/15/22]

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has adopted regulations to foster more competition for broadband service to the roughly one-third of Americans living in apartment buildings, who often have only one choice for a provider.

The rules prohibit broadband providers from entering into certain revenue-sharing agreements with a building owner that keeps competitive providers out of buildings, the FCC said in a news release. The rules, adopted on a 4-0 vote, also require providers to tell tenants if their building has an exclusive marketing arrangement with a provider, the agency said.

"The rules we adopt today will crack down on practices that prevent competition and effectively block a consumer's ability to get lower prices or higher quality services," said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the news release.

Cable providers have argued that curbing the practices cited by the FCC may inhibit investment and deployment in buildings.

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: As Part of Biden's Competition Push, FCC Votes to Lift Restrictions on Broadband Availability in Apartments and Multi-Tenant Buildings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354547

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