The FCC says cable companies must provide competitive service providers with alternative access points to multichannel and broadband wiring inside apartments, condos and other multiple dwelling units and office buildings when the wires are behind sheet-rock walls.
The FCC's rules say that cable operators have to provide competitors with other options for access when the "demarcation point" between cable-controlled wires and the building's wires is physically inaccessible.
NCTA had agreed that wiring embedded in brick, metal, or cinder blocks could be too costly, or even impossible to access, but that sheet rock can be easily cut into and repaired. It had gone to court to challenge the rules and the court had asked the FCC to revisit the issue.
The FCC concluded that having to tear out and repair sheet rock to access wires makes them essentially inaccessible given that it is a preexisting structure that will have to be significantly modified or damaged.
“We support a competitive marketplace and the current rules already allow that competition to thrive with no impediments," NCTA said in a statement. "The Appeals Court reversed the last time the FCC made this finding. We will have to review the order closely before determining next steps.”Not surprisingly, cable overbuilder RCN praised the decision:"We applaud today's decision," said the company. "This is a significant victory for consumers living in multi-unit buildings who want a competitive choice in video, voice and data. The FCC ruling ensures companies like RCN will not be handcuffed in competing effectively and thus, offering consumers more choice of service providers. We thank all at the Commission who participated in this ruling, especially FCC Chairman Martin and Monica Desai, the Chief of the Media Bureau."