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Didn’t get to pick your own internet provider for your apartment or office? The government will want to talk to you

Robin Layton

Sep 9, 2021 — 2 min read

The FCC wants to hear about experiences with selecting an internet service provider in your apartment or office building.

Young male sitting on floor of apartment working on laptop

Apartment and condo dwellers often have no ability to shop for their area’s best internet provider, as the dwelling owner may have an agreement in place with an internet service provider (ISP). This is also a problem for businesses renting space in office buildings.

The federal government wants to hear about your experience with acquiring internet service in a multi-tenant environment and also wants to hear from other stakeholders, such as building and business owners.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is extending a prior call for public comments on the issue. 

“The new call for comments aims to better understand how the Commission can promote increased competition, consumer choice, and lower prices for Americans living and working in these buildings,” states an FCC press release.

This isn’t a new problem, however. In early 2000, the FCC prohibited ISPs from having exclusive access contracts to multi-tenant buildings. 

What evolved was a revenue-sharing model where an ISP can give a building owner special consideration in different forms.

“For example, they can be simple one-time payments calculated on a per-unit basis (sometimes referred to as door fees); or they can be pro-rata, calculated as a portion of revenue generated from tenants’ subscription service fees,” according to the press release. “These pro-rata agreements may also be graduated, where the building owner receives more revenue as the proportion of tenants in a building choose that service provider. And some revenue sharing agreements may be considered “above cost”— that is, they may give (building) owners compensation beyond actual costs associated with the installation and maintenance of wiring.”  

With these considerations in mind, the FCC wants to learn a few things:

  • How do these agreements affect the ability of tenants to choose their service provider?
  • How do they affect the prices that tenants ultimately pay for service?

Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “With more than one-third of the U.S. population living in condos and apartment buildings, it’s time to take a fresh look at how exclusive agreements between carriers and building owners could lock out broadband competition and consumer choice. I look forward to reviewing the record.”

How to file your comments

  • Online: Enter your comments through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System
  • Paper: You must file an original and one copy of each filing. Filings can be sent by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. Overnight shipping must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD. 20701 and U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express and Priority mail must be addressed to 45 L Street, NE, Washington DC 20554. 

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Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site MYMOVE.com. … Read more

Joe Supan

Edited by:

Joe Supan

Principal Writer, Broadband Content

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