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How the FCC is Making Strides to Fight Broadband Monopolies

The latest policy puts the power back in the hands of everyday residents and manufactured homeowners stand to benefit.
How the FCC is Making Strides to Fight Broadband Monopolies
The latest policy puts the power back in the hands of everyday residents and manufactured homeowners stand to benefit.

by Joe Costello, Chairman & CEO Kwikbit Internet
 
Most news coming from the FCC these days can be pessimistic.  Net neutrality, censorship, and a losing battle against robocallers are the topics most commonly associated with the agency, so it's not surprising that a rare win for consumers hasn't exactly made the headlines.
 
But surprisingly, that's precisely what we have and the impact could be transformative, especially for multi-tenant environments such as manufactured home communities.
 
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order prohibiting broadband service providers from entering or enforcing revenue-sharing agreements with owners of multi-tenant environments that keep competitive providers out. This applies to residential and commercial multi-dwelling units, from shopping malls to condos to gated communities to (you guessed it) manufactured home communities.
 
According to Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, a third of Americans currently live in “multi-tenant buildings where there often is only one choice for a broadband provider, and no ability to shop for a better deal.” But that's changing.
 
What does that mean for manufactured homeowners? It means that communities can't enter into backdoor deals with a single internet provider. It means broadband giants can't sell wiring to a property owner with the expectation that it'll be leased back for their exclusive use. Now, tenants must be provided with clear and easy-to-understand information about any exclusive agreements that may already be in place. In short, it means residents have the right to choose an internet provider that works best for their needs and their budget, not that of their community manager or a telecom giant.
 
Gone are the day's multi-tenant properties locked residents in with one service provider, and to the benefit of all. Before, single service providers were free to increase rates or deliver slow speeds with impunity, as residents lacked the ability to do their business elsewhere. Leasing companies could push their residents toward a certain provider, with finder's fees being put above the resident's best interests. And digital redlining, when internet service providers could purposely neglect to upgrade equipment in certain communities was rampant.
 
Granted, the order stops short of outlawing the practice entirely. It's still possible for providers to corner the market if the agreement is out in the open and the building owner isn't getting a cut of the profits. This could be by providing a bulk billing arrangement for an entire building or community. The landlord could then market the units as “free Wi-Fi included,” as long as they disclose that this is through an exclusive contract with that provider. But even then, thanks to the FCC, tenants are not locked in—they can opt-out and choose their own internet service provider.
 
As the market opens up and the playing field evens out, manufactured homeowners will soon reap the benefits: better prices, faster speeds, and more flexibility. Researchers have long recognized that economic competition correlates with improved products and services, in this case, higher internet speeds, and price reductions.
 
As for those telecom giants, they'll simply have to step up. No company confident in their product should fear competition. Innovative wireless providers certainly don't. The whole idea behind the free enterprise is to allow a diverse array of providers for consumers to choose from. That's how you get innovation, affordability, and a healthy economy, all in the name of better service.
 
Is this latest measure perfect? No policy ever is. But this FCC order is an encouraging sign of progress, especially when you consider other moves the agency has made in recent years to stamp out monopolies.
 
Now more than ever, internet access is a must-have for full participation in civic life, from work to school to accessing social services and even healthcare. The FCC's order is long overdue, and certainly worthy of applause giving access to higher-speed broadband internet options to manufactured home residents a better quality of life and further incentivizing prospective manufactured home buyers.

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