The MDU Update - March 2024

PJ Duffy
Co-founder and Head of Growth, Hum
Mar 6, 2024
4 min read

The MDU Update is a monthly round up of what's going on in the world of multifamily real estate with a focus on what matters to broadband service providers.

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☘️ Greetings from Chicago in March!

Big potential news out of the FCC yesterday. Today's email is 499 words. Short and sweet.

Reading time: 3.8 minutes

Main Story: Proposal from FCC chair would ban ‘bulk billing’ practices at multifamily properties

Quote: "Rosenworcel’s proposal would allow tenants to opt-out of bulk billing arrangements, the release from her office explained."

Why it matters: Bulk is one of the most popular forms of internet deployment in MDUs, especially for new construction. Surely, the seismic effects of a ban like this would be felt around both the broadband and multifamily industries. The proposal is far from a done deal, however. First, many questions will need to be answered - how will residents learn of their new optionality? What happens to service providers that invested capex under pretenses of a bulk agreement? What happens to the lost Net Operating Income for the property owner?

This notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) comes on the heels of the FCC's last effort to open up broadband competition in MDUs in 2022. That policy change banned graduated revenue sharing and required property owners to disclose exclusive marketing arrangements with their internet providers.

The NPRM is now circulating with other commissioners at the FCC after which, there will now be a comment period and eventual vote on the policy change.

It is important to remember that this type of proposal is one that is easy to frame as being good for competition and, therefore, good for consumers (not all ISPs and property owners will share that sentiment). Sure enough, the White House is already claiming it as an intentional move to save Americans money. A new administration following the 2024 election would mean a changing of the guard at the FCC in early 2025. That being the case, the election could become a de facto deadline to ban bulk in MDUs.

We'll all now have to keep a watchful eye for 1) pushback from both the broadband and multifamily housing industries and 2) the potential pull of partisan politics during an election year.

Go Deeper: Read the full release from Chairwoman Rosenworcel's office.

📚 What else we read last month:

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