Forced entry proposals that would allow telecommunications providers unrestricted access to install equipment, wiring and facilities on community association property violate constitutional rights against improper seizure, and seriously infringe upon community association and homeowners' property rights, according to the Community Associations Institute (CAI). CAI filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission January 22, 2001, on behalf of condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations.
"CAI's member community associations oppose what the FCC calls 'nondiscriminatory access' as 'forced access' without the consent of the association. The FCC's 'equal access' is a taking of our members' right to control their own property," said Robert Diamond, Esq., a past president of CAI. "Community associations are run by elected leaders. CAI must protect their rights to negotiate with telecom providers in the best interests of residents."
CAI's survey of its community association members yielded 873 responses, providing the clearest picture to date of the state of the community association marketplace for video, data and voice services. CAI Government and Public Affairs Chair Ronald Perl, Esq., noted, "the high level of member survey responses used in this filing illustrate the potential deep-rooted impact of the FCC's pending action. Moreover, this filing demonstrates that CAI uniquely represents the interests of the one-in-six American homeowners whose plight may otherwise be overlooked."
In its comments, CAI made three arguments with respect to the current Forced Entry proceeding to explain why the FCC should not require community associations to allow unfettered access to telecommunications companies:
The comments submitted include key information from a CAI-sponsored survey about members' experiences with obtaining telecommunications services—including video, data and voice services—in multiple tenant environments (MTEs).
According to Steve Erd, CAI's Director of Government and Public Affairs, "The survey results—which incorporate the input of nearly 900 of our community association members—provide the FCC with the clearest picture to date of the state of the market for telecommunications services."
Some of the key survey findings include:
The findings are clear: (1) rather than fighting to keep providers out of their communities, member associations struggle to attract a provider to offer services to residents; (2) only 1% of members charge any fees to telecommunications providers; and (3) only 5.9% denied access to a telecommunications provider; there have been a minority of providers that has caused property damage, security breaches or interruptions in other services to residents of community associations.
Technology now permits transmission of voice, data, video and Internet services over telephone wire, coaxial cable, fiber optic strands or by wireless means. CAI's comments, therefore, urged the FCC to take a fresh look at the regulation of the telephone, satellite, television and Internet service provider companies in this new era of ultimate convergence. CAI's comments reflect the association's belief that ultimately the FCC's regulations should provide meaningful impetus to competition while preserving the investments of providers and protecting the interests of consumers.
CAI's FCC filing, will be available in the Government & Public Affairs section of CAI's Web site.
The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 210,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and the professionals who provide products and services to them.
MEDIA CONTACT: Blaine TobinPhone: 703-970-9235