TELEVISION/INTERNET/PHONE SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES KNOCK
EDITED Fri, 16 April 2010 07:10:31 EDT
For an association, selecting a service provider used to be relatively easy. Quality choices were few. Local telephone companies historically provided telephone services and local cable companies provided cable television services. But that’s changed.
Regulatory changes by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Florida state-wide video franchising, new technologies and increased competition have created confusion and new opportunitiesfor many associations. Successfully navigating new service and pricing options is key to securing the best television, Internet and phone services for an association community.
Many local cable, phone and sattelite television companies offer Cable/High-Speed Internet/Phone Service packages.
On 10/31/2007, FCC 07-189 banned exclusivity clauses for provision of video services to multiple dwelling units (MDUs) or other real estate developments.
Telecommunications companies today offer high-quality, innovative products with improved levels of reliability and customer service. Finding several competing companies that want to provide similar services to the community is the more straight-forward part of the proposal process, but things can get complicated from there.
Understanding Association’s Private Property Rights & Obligations.
Association common area property is private property owned by the association and its members. This statement seems simple enough, but how some associations interpret this can be a bit “murky”:
If a telecommunications company wants to access association private property to sell and deliver their products and services, they would then probably need to have some contractual right to do so. This is the basic concept behind what is generally known as a Grant of Easement. In many states including Florida, these rights are generally necessary with or without a bulkservice agreement. However, bulk cable agreements also typically include these rights within theagreement or as an amendment. Association legal counsel can help you to clarify requirements surrounding easement and access rights.
Bulk Cable and Internet Agreements.
The most common type of “bulk” agreement today is for cable television services, but they can also include Internet, phone services or any combination thereof. A bulk agreement is an agreement which provides for the delivery and billing of services for 100% of the units within the association property. It’s basically a “volume discount” in exchange for a multi-year agreement with pre-established annual rate increases. The “bulk” agreement is an Agreement for Services, and the “Grant of Easement” or other similar agreement provides for the access rights and permission to deliver the services to and through the association property.
With Multiple Providers, Bulk and Non-Bulk Options, Plus Existing Contractual Rights and Obligations, How Does an Association Select the Best Options for their Community?
It’s complicated,but hard work and “due diligence” will offer rewards in the form of improved servicesand more competitive pricing options for the association. After all, for most associations, a bulk cable/Internet service bill represents one of the largest financial expenditures for the association community. With this in mind, here are some basic steps an association may want to follow:
· The earlier an association begins reviewing their rights, obligations and options, the better. A good time to start the process is about 12-months before current agreements expire.
· An early start helps to ensure that your association won’t be rushed into making a service and/or agreement decision.
Solicit Multiple Proposals:
· Soliciting multiple proposals tends to give associations more negotiating power, which lends itself to providing for more choice, better pricing and service options.
· Compare the proposals “apples-to-apples”. This can sometimes be complex, because of varying service provider packaging combinations.
Get Expert Advice:
· Telecom providers are the experts in their field, so associations should solicit assistance from experts to “level the playing field” (legal, accounting, industry consultants, etc.). These experts most importantly will represent the interests of the association, so that they better understand their options.
· A typical 200 unit association will spend more than $300,000 over a 5-year bulk agreement, so spending a little money to protect the interests of the association will be money well spent, and will probably save the association money over the life of the agreement.
Your association really does have options! Regulatory changes by the FCC, Florida state-widevideo franchising, plus new technologies and increased competition from cable, satellite and telephone companies have created new opportunities for associations. Successfully finding, evaluating and navigating these many options will be your reward, which will bring benefits to your association for many years to come!
The article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Information in this document may not reflect recent developments or regulatory changes, and may contain errors or omissions. Broadband Agreement Specialists, Inc is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. It is important and recommended that associations review all agreements with qualified legal counsel for an accurate and legally reliable evaluation of rights and obligations. If an association has a legal question, it is recommended that they consult with qualified legal counsel.
About Broadband Agreement Specialists, Inc.
Broadband Agreement Specialists, Inc. is an independent, unbiased, telecommunications consulting firm dedicated to preserving private property rights, while saving money and securing competitive voice, video and data options for residential communities. With inside industry expertise derived from over 25 years experience working for premier cable, telephone and cellular telecommunications companies, the company is committed to representing the interests of managers and association boards with regard to today’s telecom issues. Based in South Florida, the company provides services on a contingency, hourly, or project basis, depending on size and scope, with a focus to obtain maximum savings and/or compensation from service providers on behalf of client associations. For additional company information, please visit www.broadbandagr.com or call toll-free 1-877-826-1625 for a free no-obligation consultation.