The Federal Communications Commission is set to strike down thousands of exclusive contracts between cable companies and apartment buildings this week, a move officials say will drive down prices as it increases competition. Consumer groups have lobbied hard for the change as have companies such as Verizon and AT&T who want to move in to offer packages of TV, internet and phone services on a single bill.
In many places, companies and landlords have signed contracts naming a particular firm the sole provider of cable services in a building for years. Government and private studies show that a competing provider can lower prices as much as 30%. Cable companies argue that they often trade structural upgrades for long-term guarantees, making long-term contracts beneficial for everyone involved.