FCC: San Francisco Has Its Wires Crossed

Will vote to pre-empt apparent inside ‘lit’ wiring mandate
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission plans to pre-empt a San Francisco ordinance on mandatory sharing of in-home broadband wiring that it says undermines the “quality” of broadband service.

Officials in San Francisco ran afoul of the FCC in passing a law requiring broadband providers to share wiring in apartment buildings.

Officials in San Francisco ran afoul of the FCC in passing a law requiring broadband providers to share wiring in apartment buildings.

That comes in a Declaratory Ruling the FCC plans to vote on at its July 10 meeting. The ruling accompanies a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on various aspects of competition for broadband service to Multiple Tenant Environments (MTEs). The notice ranges far and wide, with questions about “the impact that revenue-sharing agreements between building owners and broadband providers, exclusivity agreements regarding rooftop facilities and exclusive wiring arrangements have on broadband competition and deployment.”

But the declaratory ruling is very specific, pre-empting a city ordinance (Article 52) that the FCC said appeared to require mandatory access by competitors to an incumbent’s used (lit) as well as unused inside wiring, something the FCC has declined to require in the past and isn’t likely to under the current watch.

The FCC questions whether or not access to unused wiring should be mandated, too, as the San Francisco ordinance clearly does, but confines the pre-emption to the degree it mandates it for wires in use by an incumbent. “Requiring the sharing of in-use facilities reduces investment, slows the deployment of new facilities in MTEs, poses significant technical issues, and undermines the quality of communications services.”

Chairman Ajit Pai almost certainly has the votes, among his Republican majority at least, for pre-emption.

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