Preempting San Francisco Ordinance Would Reduce Broadband Competition

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Jessica Del Fiacco

Preempting San Francisco Ordinance Would Reduce Broadband Competition

FCC Should Learn From Local Solutions, Not Prevent Them


Washington, DC (July 1, 2019) — In 2016, San Francisco, one of our member communities, created an ordinance that strives to ensure that those who live in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) have access to multiple internet service providers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now considering a proposed rulemaking that would preempt this ordinance, and prevent any other municipality from pursuing a similar solution. 

At Next Century Cities, our work is guided by our founding principles. We believe that meaningful competition drives progress and that all communities must enjoy self-determination. San Francisco’s ordinance is an innovative method of encouraging competition that addresses the unique challenges posed by MDUs, where owners often strike exclusive marketing agreements with incumbent cable and telephone companies. San Francisco’s ordinance prevents landlords from blocking a service provider’s access to a physical building, and also allows landlords “just and reasonable compensation” to defray any costs from providers installing their equipment. As a result, San Francisco residents enjoy a more competitive market and better broadband options. 

The FCC’s own stated principles include promoting a competitive broadband market, and Next Century Cities welcomes FCC action to improve policy in pursuit of increased broadband competition. But we believe that preempting San Francisco’s solution actively works against this goal. Instead, federal regulators should take the opportunity to learn from successful local solutions and be a partner in improving the broadband landscape. 

Additionally, while we support Congresswoman Katie Porter’s amendment to H.R. 3351 and her leadership protecting competitive and local broadband policy, there remains work to be done to set sustainable federal policy that will encourage broadband competition in MDUs.

We encourage the FCC to allow San Francisco’s ordinance to remain in effect, and to empower municipalities to pursue local solutions that improve access to broadband in their communities. Next Century Cities looks forward to the opportunity to discuss why preserving local authority ultimately increases competition and adoption rates.


Next Century Cities is a non-profit membership organization of over 200 communities, founded to support communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. Next Century Cities celebrates broadband successes in communities, demonstrates their value, and helps other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband. For more information, visit

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