Trade group asks FCC to open up cable and internet competition for apartment buildings

Trade group asks FCC to open up cable and internet competition for apartment buildings
© Greg Nash

A trade association is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to give apartment building tenants more choices when it comes to internet and cable providers.

Incompas, which lobbies on behalf of smaller service providers, said the FCC should take up a new rule that would effectively ban rental property owners from giving preferential treatment to certain companies.

While it’s illegal to prevent apartment building tenants from signing up with the service provider of their choice, landlords have a lot of leeway to ensure that only certain providers have access to their properties.

In some cases they also have an incentive to favor one provider over another. Property owners are allowed to enter into revenue-sharing agreements with companies like AT&T and Comcast, for instance, which provide kickbacks whenever their tenants sign up for service.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s time for the FCC to set the 30 percent of Americans living in apartment and condo buildings free from broadband monopoly control,” said Incompas CEO Chip Pickering in a statement. “They should not be forced to pay more for slower speeds when new broadband competition is knocking on the front door.

“Exclusivity lock-ups and kickbacks have enabled landlords and big cable and telecom companies to skirt existing FCC policy, keeping prices high and customer service low.”

The group’s proposal would ban such arrangements and open up multi-unit buildings to more competition from smaller providers.

A recent report revealed that 46.1 million households in the U.S. have only one choice when it comes to high-speed internet providers.