FCC Kills Part of San Francisco’s Broadband-Competition Law

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. But it’s not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC’s Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan partially overturns San Francisco’s Article 52, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit buildings even if another ISP already serves the building. The FCC said it’s preempting the law “to the extent it requires the sharing of in-use wiring.” But Pai’s proposal admits the FCC doesn’t know whether the San Francisco law actually requires sharing of in-use wiring, which makes it difficult to understand whether the FCC preemption will change anything in practice. Today’s FCC decision “stop[s] efforts in California designed to encourage competition in multi-tenant environments,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said at today’s meeting. “Specifically, we say to the city of San Francisco — where more than half of the population rents their housing, often in multi-tenant units — that they cannot encourage broadband competition. This is crazy.”

An announcement from Pai’s office argued that “[r]equired sharing of in-use wiring deters broadband deployment, undercuts the Commission’s rules regarding control of cable wiring in residential MTEs [multi-tenant environments] and threatens the Commission’s framework to protect the technical integrity of cable systems for the benefit of viewers.”

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