FCC Seeks Input on Broadband in MTEs

The FCC has unanimously approved a notice of inquiry seeking comments on barriers to deployment of broadband to multiple tenant environments (MTEs), both businesses and residences and ways to enhance competition.

The FCC wants to know if there are state and local regs that restrict deployment and competition. It also wants to revisit the 2010 decision not to take action on bulk billing and exclusive marketing arrangements among MVPDs and is seeking comment on how revenue sharing agreements and exclusive wiring arrangements affect competition.

FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly had some issues. He said he did not think the FCC had the authority to regulate marketing practices and said the FTC might be a better place to address it.

He said that the FCC's reclassification of ISPs as noncommon carriers might render some of the issues being teed up as moot and would not agree to still getting at those issues after Title II unclassification because some of the relevant providers also carry legacy voice, which is under Title II. 

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC will look at the state and regulatory landscape and solicit facts that will help it answer questions like whether exclusive inside wiring contracts are appropriate. He conceded there were some tough economic and legal questions to which the FCC was looking for answers. 

O'Rielly said he would keep an eye on the item to make sure that any resulting proposal was "grounded in the statue and sound public policy." 

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said the NOI "represents an important first step to ensure that barriers to competition are torn down." 

Chairman Pai teed up his comments with a TV reference.

"Melrose Place, The Jeffersons, Seinfeld, Perfect Strangers, Three’s Company, Friends, Good Times, and The Big Bang Theory.  What do these television shows have in common?," he asked. "Each takes place in an apartment building—or, in the parlance, a multiple tenant environment (MTE).  MTEs are residential or commercial premises, including apartment buildings and shopping centers, that are occupied by multiple tenants." Then closed with "For whether Americans live in a deluxe apartment in the sky, 129 West 81st Street, a Chicago housing project, or a stylish courtyard apartment complex in West Hollywood, they deserve digital opportunity."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.