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The National Apartment Association (NAA) and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) are voicing their concerns over an announcement from the Biden administration proposing a ban on broadband bulk billing arrangements.

As part of the administration’s work to eliminate junk fees, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is circulating a proposed rule that would lower costs and increase choice for consumers by banning “bulk billing” arrangements, a practice by which landlords or providers charge everyone living or working in a building for a particular internet, cable, or satellite service, even if they don’t want it or haven’t opted in.

“Everyone deserves to have a choice of broadband provider,” said FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “That is why it is not right when your building or apartment complex chooses that service for you, saddling you with unwanted costs, and preventing you from signing up for the plan and provider you really want. This proposal shuts down these practices. It boosts competition and consumer choice and builds on our ongoing efforts to improve broadband transparency.”

The NAA and NMHC countered that banning these bulk internet arrangements would harm residents and disincentivize investment in broadband service, especially in low-income, smaller, and more affordable multifamily communities with residents who struggle the most with connectivity.

“Worse, it turns in direct opposition to the historic federal investments and resources being poured into communities of all types to bridge the digital divide, by eliminated a cost-effective, quick, and reliable solution to improve broadband access and adoption,” noted the associations.

According to the NAA and NMHC, through agreements with broadband providers, multifamily owners and operators can use their market knowledge and leverage to negotiate cheaper, better, faster, and more reliable service to their residents than what may typically be found in the surrounding area.

“Bulk billing arrangements are pro-consumer and pro-renter and help support property operations like climate resilience and our shared long-term goals of improving housing affordability. The administration and the FCC should be looking for ways to support and elevate bulk billing arrangements to leverage historic federal resources to boost broadband access, not reduce options and, in turn, potentially disconnect millions of American families,” stating the associations. “NMHC and NAA urge the Biden administration and the FCC to reconsider this flawed proposal as we try to work together for ways to lower housing costs, increase connectivity, and expand housing supply.”