Magazine article Journal of Property Management

New, Improved Cable Options

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

New, Improved Cable Options

Article excerpt

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has allowed several young, aggressive cable television start-ups to target multifamily housing markets with new and flashy services. Property owners who once had no options in choosing cable provider now find themselves facing an embarrassment of riches in the telecommunications landscape.

"The Telecommunications Act and subsequent FCC rulings have increased awareness among both property managers and consumers about the wide variety of choices available," notes Patrick Cunningham, general manager of Skyview, a division of Ethnic/American Broadcasting Co. Cunningham also notes that unless provisions are written into leases, new rulings make it more difficult for managers to limit provider access to a property. New technologies such as 18inch satellite disks have also made multi-channel access affordable even for smaller properties.

At the same time, recent FCC rulings generally favor property owners on rights to inside wiring and establish a structured procedure to follow when changing service providers.

"Inside wiring has always been a big issue in the industry," says Kevin Schottlaender, president and CEO of Interactive Cable System. "The franchise cable operators and incumbent telephone providers have all maintained control and responsibility over that wiring, and it is very near and dear to their hearts. Now, owners can start making some decisions knowing that they can make a change without having to tear up a bunch of walls It's not going to be free, but at least it affords them the right and flexibility to make some educated business decisions."

"The fundamental issue in the multifamily market is access to the subscriber." acknowledges Steve Cox, senior vice president of new ventures for DirecTV. Cox believes that providers should be encouraged to share the same wiring and "give consumers more of a choice."

The FCC report sets the point of demarcation for multifamily buildings at 12 inches from the individual units. In addition, the report requires that within 30 days notification of a change in service, an incumbent provider must either remove the inside wiring up to the point of demarcation; abandon the wiring without disabling it; or sell the wiring to the owner or the new provider.

"For a single family dwelling, that [the point of demarcation] makes sense," says Michael Katzenstein, vice president and general counsel of OpTel, Inc. …

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