WISPA Urges FCC to Prohibit Anti-Competitive MTE Arrangements and Practices
Washington, DC, August 30, 2019 – Approximately 100 million Americans live in multiple tenant environments (MTEs), and millions more work in offices. Competitive access to these residential and work spaces plays an important role in offering choice to these consumers. Though over the past 30 years the FCC has allowed many exclusive arrangements and practices, today’s MTE marketplace and the broadband technology that can access MTEs have evolved, making once-accepted practices now barriers to entry for competitive providers such as WISPs.
In a filing made at the FCC today, WISPA noted its support for the Commission’s re-evaluation of its MTE rules, and called for the agency to prohibit such practices as unreasonable revenue sharing, exclusive marketing and exclusive wiring agreements. WISPA believes these and other discriminatory practices harm competition and far outweigh any purported consumer benefits envisaged by the outdated rules.
“The Commission’s effort to update its rules must encourage competition at the doorstep, account for technological advancements, and eliminate legacy statutory classifications that continue to hamper, if not prohibit, the ability of WISPA’s members to provide affordable broadband service to MTEs across the country,” states the filing. The comments note further that “The Commission has the opportunity in this proceeding to take decisive action to eliminate long-standing MTE entry barriers that were established for different purposes and at a very different time, when the MTE service provider landscape was dominated by our nation’s largest telecommunications and cable companies.”
WISPA’s comments assert that MTE practices have had a negative effect on fixed wireless providers. To this end, WISPA recently surveyed its members on MTE access barriers, and respondents reported that:
· 47% have been denied access based on other agreements or circumstances;
· 32% do not serve MTEs because they are not considered telephone or cable companies;
· 28% do not serve MTEs due to exclusive wiring agreements with an incumbent provider;
· 27% do not serve MTEs due to exclusive marketing agreements with an incumbent provider;
· 38% were forced to enter into a revenue sharing agreement as a condition for MTE entry; and
· 29% were required to enter into a revenue sharing agreement as simply a condition to speak with the MTE property owner.
“These discriminatory practices are antithetical to broadband competition,” said Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA. “Our members have the technology that could quickly and affordably serve MTEs and their tenants, but they’re stymied by outdated laws and rules which only serve a bygone technological era. The Commission is correct in revisiting this landscape, and we hope they end these strong-arm tactics, allowing our members to bring more high-speed broadband choice and access to urban and rural MTEs.”
WISPA’s approximately 800 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 4 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.