The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted unanimously to pass new rules that will crack down on exclusive broadband agreements between owners of multi-tenant buildings and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The rules were pushed by FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel last week and were first proposed in January. They aim to increase ISP competition in multi-tenant buildings like apartments and condos by tightening loopholes in existing FCC rules that prohibit exclusive contracts between landlords and ISPs.
Specifically, the rules would prohibit ISPs from entering into progressive revenue-sharing agreements or exclusive revenue-sharing agreements with building owners. These agreements take place when ISPs grant a building owner a reduction in revenue to gain access to the building and its tenants.
It would also require ISPs to clearly disclose to tenants whether they have an exclusive marketing agreement with building owners and limit “sale-leaseback agreements”, where ISPs sell wiring to a building owner and the rent on an exclusive basis.
“The Federal Communications Commission has long prohibited Internet service providers from entering into sweetheart agreements with landlords that guarantee they are the only provider in the building. But the record of this proceeding has clearly shown that our existing rules are not doing enough and that we can do more to open the door to providers who want to offer competitive service in apartment buildings,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.
She added that the new rules “will improve customer choice” and are “significant steps that will increase competition”.
This decision was also applauded by public interest groups. Jenna Leventoff, senior policy adviser at Public Knowledge, said ISPs and landlords have “exploited loopholes” in existing FCC rules to force people to pay more for broadband plans that may not meet their needs. needs.
“We welcome this action as a step towards advancing consumer choice no matter where someone lives or works. However, with broadband owners and providers constantly creating new loopholes, consumers in multi- tenants will have no choice until the Commission takes action to prohibit all arrangements that limit consumer choice in multi-tenant environments,” Leventoff said in a statement.
*First published: February 16, 2022, 9:25 a.m. CST
Andrew Wyrich is the Daily Dot’s assistant technical editor. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).