The cable lobby is trying to stop a possible ban on exclusive cable deals between Internet providers and homeowners, saying that the exclusive plans are “competitive” even though they make it harder for new ISPs to provide multi-room service. and apartments. .
Federal Communications Commission last week seek public comment on how to promote competition in multi-tenant environments (MTE), following President Biden’s order urging the FCC to “prevent ISPs from entering into agreements with landlords that limit tenants’ choices.” The FCC technical bans exclusive contracts for TV and telephone services in many homes, but it has not solved the problem in part because FCC rules allow contracts that prevent new ISPs from using existing wires. These wiring deals are sometimes exclusive to an ISP even when the wires are owned by the homeowner and not used.
The FCC’s new public notice asks whether the commission should “reexamine its conclusion that classified driving programs generally do not restrict access to new entrants and therefore do not violate its rules.” That decision was made in 2007 under a Republican majority. The FCC is now asking for public comment on whether the exclusive wire deals “prevent entry by competing service providers” and on whether the deals have any benefits for tenants to overcome those disadvantages.
Comcast, Charter, Cox, NCTA make their case
The public notice seeks to “set the record straight” in an FCC regulation on competition in multiple industries starting in 2019 under then-Chairman Ajit Pai. Several groups told the FCC that exclusive wire deals are being used as a loophole around restrictions on exclusive service deals. But the cable companies that benefited from the deals urged the FCC to reject calls to regulate or ban them and they continued the dispute with the Biden-era FCC.
Comcast, Charter, Cox, and the NCTA–Internet & Television Association (the cable industry’s main lobbying group) met with FCC staff to discuss the topic on September 2, according to ex parte filing submitted last week by NCTA. During the meeting, NCTA “explained the benefits of continuing to allow suppliers to enter into exclusive contracts with MTE owners. State-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers, filings said.
Cable lobbyists urged the FCC to examine the “technical weakness of the simultaneous distribution of cable devices used by different providers” and argued that bulk billing and exclusive marketing systems have “customer-consumer advantages.” The NCTA also argues that “enforcement, competition, and consumer choice in multi-tenant environments are strong.”
Fears of using electricity are “baseless”.
ISPs that support exclusive deals have repeatedly argued about internal wiring, but other ISPs say the concerns are unfounded because the FCC can block exclusive deals while ensuring that the wires can’t be used by ISPs. two at the same time. For example, a resident can choose from two ISPs, and whichever ISP you choose will use the existing wires going to the resident’s unit.
“Any issues related to the mandatory sharing of existing wiring were resolved” when the FCC in 2019 issued a ruling on the San Francisco indoor wiring question, in which the FCC “describes the only rule in the country that it can mean ordering distributions are already available in-use wirin,” Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) told the FCC in September 2019. “The Commission stated that ‘(i) using cable distribution disturbs the balance that the Commission strikes in its cable in the measurement rules (which are) intended to promote competition while preserving the incentives for the operation and maintenance of objects modern home appliances.’ This action by the Commission negates any justification for withholding exclusive wiring contracts based on an unfounded fear of sharing the obligation of using wire owned or controlled by the manufacturer.”
The FCC pre-order issued by Pai-mu is the FCC little to no practical effect because San Francisco’s law was designed to keep new ISPs from using it fragment wire Incompas, the competition industry group, told the FCC in 2019 that “incumbent providers and MTE owners have manipulated the Commission’s current grant for dedicated drive systems to ensure that competitors cannot access fallow or unused cable.”
Verizon, which competes against cable companies with its FiOS cable Internet and TV service, urged the FCC to block exclusive cable deals for broadband owned by homeowners. “New entrants will be less likely to deploy to MTE if they are prohibited from accessing unused wires and must provide facilities for home wiring,” Verizon said. wrote in September 2019.
ISPs use “intimidation tactics” to prevent competition
Last week’s FCC notice asking for public comment on the rumors many groups are saying in 2019 that exclusive wireless deals keep competitors away. The FCC cited Incompas as saying that exclusive wire deals “amount to circumventing the commission’s ban on exclusive service contracts,” “increase the costs of competitive entry,” and “reduce choice for telecommunications services.”
The FCC cited WISPA as saying such deals “act as a market barrier for competitive providers because MTE owners/operators may not know which wiring is dedicated to a particular provider and will therefore prevent access to all wires… in fear of violating any exclusive agreement(s) with the incumbent.” Internet provider Starry told the FCC that “(o)nce the commission has prohibited exclusive access agreements, authorities come to rely on combinations of revenue, exclusive marketing, exclusive wire, and flat threat strategies to try to avoid successful competition in MTEs.”
One type of exclusive wiring agreement is called a sale-and-leaseback arrangement, in which an ISP sells its wiring to a homeowner and then leases the wiring on an exclusive basis. WISPA argues that this is “so true an exclusive access agreement operating under the guise of an exclusive wire agreement.”
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel may be more willing to ban wiretapping than her predecessor, but the FCC still lacks a Democratic majority because President Biden has failed to appoint a fifth commissioner to break a 2-2 deadlock. since Pai left the council.
“Across the country throughout the pandemic, the need for better broadband access has never been clearer,” Rosenworcel said last week. “With more than a third of the U.S. population living in condos and apartments, it’s time to take a new look at how exclusive deals between carriers and homeowners can close broadband competition and consumer choice.”
The FCC looks at revenue sharing and sales transactions
In addition to the wire rules, the FCC public notice seeks comment on “revenue-sharing agreements between MTE owners and service providers, and whether such arrangements prevent entry by competitive providers or affect the cost and quality of services.” service choice for consumers” and “for input on whether discriminatory marketing programs create confusion and fewer choices for tenants,” the FCC said.
Although the cable lobby opposes the ban on exclusive cable deals, the NTCA called on the FCC to expand its ban on exclusive service contracts to cover all types of broadcasting providers.
“The Commission can promote greater efficiency and competition by prohibiting not only cable operators, other covered MVPDs (Multichannel Video Program Servers), and telecommunications carriers, but all broadcast providers from entering the MTE exclusive access agreements,” NCTA wrote.