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FCC adopts new rule to give apartments and office buildings access to high-speed internet

Officials want to ensure that consumers have access to more competitive internet services

Internet access in city concept
Photo (c) zf L - Getty Images
In an effort to get broadband everywhere possible, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a rule that will give tenants in apartment buildings and those who work in office buildings better access to high-speed internet.

Going forward, the agency says landlords and building owners who have any sort of exclusive agreement with a broadband provider will need to disclose that to their tenants. The agency will also no longer allow any sort of deal that would block competitive access to alternative providers.

“One-third of this country lives in multi-tenant buildings where there often is only one choice for a broadband provider, and no ability to shop for a better deal,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “The rules we adopt today will crack down on practices that prevent competition and effectively block a consumer’s ability to get lower prices or higher quality services.”

Consumers finally get change

It’s no secret that consumers have needed more choices when it comes to broadband for the last several years. The FCC had this rulemaking move on its agenda for a while, dating back to 2017 under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, but it never saw the light of day.

Consumers were clamoring for action long before 2017, though. ConsumerAffairs reviewer Josh, of Tell City, Ind., claimed back in 2016 that he was unable to get high-speed internet in his apartment building.

“[The AT&T rep said] that since they do not provide a product, but do provide a service, they are going to ignore the consumer laws here in America, and not give me the service I paid for,” Josh wrote.

More consumer-friendly rules

When President Biden moved into the White House, he signed an executive order that forced the agency to impose consumer-friendly rules on Big Tech and ISPs that were aimed at increasing competition and lowering prices for consumers. 

With Biden’s infrastructure bill becoming law, consumers should be able to enjoy several benefits, including more transparent prices, more affordable service, and better availability.

Under the order, Biden will encourage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reintroduce a “broadband nutrition label” to provide consumers with greater price transparency and restrict early termination fees. The order will also direct the FCC to restore the net neutrality rules that were undone in 2017 that require broadband companies to treat all internet services equally.

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