FCC Seeks Comment on Actions to Promote Broadband Deployment and Competition in Apartment and Office Buildings —

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The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Declaratory Ruling seeking to improve broadband deployment and competition in multiple tenant environments (MTEs) such as apartment and office buildings. Broadband deployment in MTEs poses unique challenges because providers must have access to potential customers in MTEs. Where providers are required to share their facilities with competitors, they are unlikely to invest in such deployment. Accordingly, the FCC seeks comment on possible actions to accelerate the deployment of next-generation services in MTEs. In particular, the FCC requests comment on the impact that revenue sharing agreements between building owners and providers, exclusivity agreements for rooftop facilities, and exclusive wiring arrangements have on broadband deployment and competition. In the Declaratory Ruling, the FCC clarifies that state and local governments may try to increase access to MTEs as long as actions are consistent with federal policy. However, in a contentious 3-2 decision split along party lines, the FCC preempts a San Francisco ordinance to the extent that it requires the sharing of in-use wiring in MTEs. According to the FCC, required sharing of in-use wiring deters broadband deployment, undercuts the FCC’s rules regarding control of cable wiring in residential MTEs, and threatens the FCC’s framework to protect the technical integrity of cable systems for the benefit of viewers. Comments will be due 30 days, and reply comments 60 days, after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register.

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