Thousands of people in the Madison area work and live in multiple tenant environments (MTEs), such as apartments and condominiums.   Today they have the right to internet choice thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Access to high-quality, affordable communications service—including broadband Internet access service—is essential to all Madisonians, including those living and working in MTEs.  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the critical importance of these communications services as never before.  Increasingly everyone relies on telework, remote learning, telehealth and other online applications to meet their personal and professional needs—all of which require access to broadband Internet access

Your Internet - Your ChoiceIn the Spring of 2022, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced a new ruling that is affecting many apartment owners across Madison and the country in regard to broadband/internet service. The ruling is called “FCC-22-12” and it seeks to improve competition for broadband/internet service for residents.  The Order is another important step to ensure that people who live in MTEs” are able to have a choice when it comes to providers for broadband, voice and video services.

The FCC has prohibited exclusive contracts between owners of MTEs and Internet providers since 2008.  However, owners and telecommunications providers have been getting around this prohibition on exclusivity in several creative ways! From providers and owners entering into revenue-sharing agreements and “exclusive marketing contracts” to selling hardware and leasing it back to the property owner, all giving the owner a significant financial incentive to favor one provider.

In the Order, the FCC ruled that each of these practices are anti-competitive and contrary to the spirit of the rule prohibiting exclusive contracts between the provider and owner.  They lead to a monopoly, which results in less choice for tenants and tenants paying more money and/or receiving a lesser quality service.  As a result, in the Order, the FCC ruled as follows:

  • Revenue sharing agreements between owners and Internet providers are prohibited and unenforceable.
  • Sale and lease-back arrangements between owners and Internet providers are prohibited and unenforceable.
  • Exclusive marketing agreements are still allowed, but the provider must clearly inform the tenant in writing that the provider is not the exclusive provider to the building and inform the tenant that the tenant has other option

How does the new order impact you?  As a tenant, you have the right to ask for other internet service providers in your building.  Your landlord or property manager can’t limit your choice of providers.  Many property owners may not know of the recent update to the FCC rules.  Share these links to educate them.

“This is a big deal for many tenants in Madison who have had limited choice of internet service providers in their Multi-tenanted buildings,” said 5NINES Business Development Manager Jonathan Fiala.  “Over the next few months, 5NINES will definitely be reaching out property owners to inform and educate them of these new rules.”

Additionally, Jonathan encourages tenants to ask their landlords for more internet choices today.  5NINES has set up a page to help tenants request our services within their buildings.  Find it here – https://info.5nines.com/your-choice-residential-internet