It is widely recognized broadband Internet service is closely aligned with economic growth and development, education, and healthcare. We know this as consumers because the Internet has fundamentally changed how we work and how we live. From "smart" thermostats in our homes controlled by our phones to "smart" systems managing major infrastructure in condominium buildings, our society is directly linked to the Internet.
For community association residents, the experience is no different of that of consumers across the country. Community managers tell CAI access to broadband Internet is increasingly on the mind of homeowners. In 2015 The Wall Street Journal offered a snapshot of the Millennial homebuyer, quoting a consumer who said "We wouldn't choose a house that didn't have electricity...It's right on par with those things."
High consumer demand for broadband service has led the FCC to launch an extensive review of consumer access to broadband Internet service. A key focus of the Commission's review is identifying "impediments" to broadband deployment.
The Commission is particularly concerned by reports of lengthy, expensive reviews demanded by local governments and local objections to sitting towers and other broadband infrastructure. In announcing the review, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai offered examples of localities obstructing broadband deployment. Chairman Pai made clear the Commission is prepared to pre-empt state law and local ordinances used by communities to slow or halt improvements and expansions to broadband infrastructure. Chairman Pai also indicated an openness to addressing the legitimate concerns of communities.
Earlier this year, CAI representatives met with senior FCC officials in Washington DC to discuss community associations and federal communications policy. The meeting focused on how community associations facilitate and maximize resident access to communications within the framework of community deed restrictions and rules. In this meeting, FCC senior staff asked that CAI members share their experiences with access to broadband Internet service. CAI representatives have since filed comment letters with the FCC about wireless broadband Internet services and wireline broadband Internet services have encouraged CAI members to do the same.
FCC staff are keenly interested in examples of communications service providers working collaboratively with associations to install or expand broadband infrastructure. FCC staff also asked CAI members to share any negative experiences where an association was not consulted prior to infrastructure being installed on rights of way or where communications service providers declined to build or improve broadband infrastructure in the community.
If FCC broadband deployment policy is to be responsive to community association homeowners and residents, the Commission needs to hear directly from CAI members. Please take a few minutes of your time to participate in government and let policymakers know your views.