This week, in a setback for the real estate industry, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) approved a Model State Code (MSC), which NMHC/NAA and other real estate trade groups had opposed. With no discussion or amendment, the MSC was approved by a vote of 16-8.
The BDAC was established by the FCC in January 2017 to make recommendations on how to remove barriers to the deployment of high-speed Internet across the country. As part of their efforts, the BDAC created an MSC that would serve as a roadmap for state legislatures on how to legislate policies that would foster broadband deployment. As drafted, Article 8 of the MSC grants broadband providers the unilateral right to install facilities in all multifamily residential and other commercial buildings and mandate construction of broadband facilities at the property owner’s expense without regard to the rights and concerns of the owner. NMHC/NAA has weighed in several times against the MSC:
- In July 2018 when the MSC was originally considered by the BDAC
- In November 2018 meetings between NMHC leadership and several FCC Commissioners
- This week, NMHC/NAA joined several other real estate organizations in strong opposition to the MSC’s adoption
NMHC/NAA and its real estate industry partners argued that Article 8 of the MSC is riddled with many practical and legal problems. Among the most serious issues with the MSC is that it interferes with private property rights, disrupts negotiations and existing contracts between property owners and communications service providers and will lead to costly regulation and litigation at the state level without any assurance of actually spurring broadband deployment.
NMHC/NAA will continue to advocate at the FCC against the BDAC’s MSC and emphasize that the market for multifamily broadband is both robust and competitive and government intervention, at any level, isn’t warranted. Despite the BDACs approval of the measure, it is important to note that the MSC is simply advisory in nature and is in no way binding. Individual states would still need to legislate its approval for it to be enacted.
The apartment industry is currently monitoring several similar FCC proceedings that have the potential to significantly impact how apartment owners and operators work and partner with telecommunications services within multifamily communities. Recently, NMHC issued a primer document for policymakers and industry professionals. This document lays out current industry practices in the telecom space and provides a clear snapshot of each of the current FCC proceeding’s potential impact on the apartment industry and its residents.
For more information about NMHC’s work in this space and ongoing FCC proceedings that are examining current service standards and competition in our sector, please visit NMHC’s Telecom Advocacy page.