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Video services

FCC Bans Exclusive Triple-Play Deals in MDUs

As of today, the FCC says it has "banned carriers from entering into exclusive contracts to provide telecommunications services in residential apartment buildings, and prohibited enforcement of existing contracts that contain exclusivity provisions."

That's a pretty tall order, given that there's some debate as to whether the FCC can just up and declare contracts between two entities invalid, especially when a bandwidth connection these days allows for a healthy choice of voice and video options from all manners of third-party providers.

The cable operators will no doubt have the most visceral reaction to this latest order, which the FCC says is consistent with its 2007 ban on exclusive deals for video services in residential apartment buildings and its 2000 ban on exclusive contracts for telecommunications services in commercial MTEs (multiple tenant environments). (See FCC Bans Cable MDU Lockups.)

The cable lobby has complained bitterly about the FCC's proclamations in the past, as most of the exclusive triple-play tie-ups between service providers and apartment buildings are held by cable companies -- the first service providers in most markets to have a triple play offering.

Telcos, meanwhile, have been slow to turn on fiber-fed services to some major metropolitan areas because, technical issues aside, each building requires its own set of negotiations -- and that can be hampered when building owners have already pledged exclusivity to cable operators. (See NCTA Seeks MDU Ruling Reversal and Fiber-to-the-MDU: Verizon's Manhattan Project.)

In related news, MTE sounds like something from a weapons catalog, but it actually refers to office buildings that have more than one company sharing floor space.

We'll have more reaction from telcos and cable MSOs alike in an article tomorrow morning.

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading


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