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FCC Bans Triple-Play Exclusives For Apts.

3/19/2008 01:42:00 PM Eastern

Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday offered good news to apartment dwellers looking for options in their selection of telephone, television and Internet service providers.

The FCC issued an order banning exclusive contracts for telecommunications services in apartment buildings. The FCC also prohibited enforcement of existing contracts with exclusivity provisions. The commissioners said that such agreements between carriers and building owners “hurt consumers and harm competition, with little evidence of countervailing benefits.”

Exclusive contracts have blocked access by consumers to competitive and popular “triple-play” offerings of voice, video and broadband, according to a statement issued by the FCC.

The FCC commissioners said they hope the order will open the door to competitive telecommunications services and “help provide consumers with increased access to and choice of such providers.”

The action was said to be consistent with previous actions to expand competition for communications services in apartment buildings and other multiple tenant environments (MTEs).

In 2007, the FCC banned exclusive deals for video services in residential apartment buildings, and in 2000, it prohibited exclusive contracts for telecommunications services in commercial MTEs.

The latest order “provides regulatory parity between telecommunications and video service providers in the increasingly competitive market for bundled services,” the FCC said.