Onboard’s Response to FCC Proposal on Bulk Internet Billing

Scott Russell

March 7, 2024

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission announced a new proposal that could impact existing telecommunication contracts. The FCC has proposed similar changes in the past, but such proposals resulted in immaterial changes in the law. These proposed changes come at a time of current perceived market conditions, including heightened sensitivity nationwide to inflation, rent costs, and junk fees, along with an election on the horizon.

Here are the next steps you can expect in this process:

  • The FCC is internally circulating a draft of the proposed rules, which will be distributed publicly in the coming days.  Once the proposed rules are published, the FCC will solicit comments from all interested parties.  This comment period can vary in duration, but normally lasts for several months. Industry experts expect a significant amount of comments and pushback from service providers and multi-tenant owners and managers alike, including organizations like NCTA and NMHC.
  • There will be ample opportunity for commenters to correct the misconception that bulk billing arrangements result in less tenant choice and that such arrangements usually result in much better service packages with higher speeds at a reduced cost.  The FCC has not provided any guidance on how it would minimize the impact on millions of units that currently enjoy bulk services across every conceivable housing type (conventional, student, low income, senior living, assisted living, HOAs, retirement communities, etc.).  The comments and pushback from nearly every stakeholder in the equation (ISPs, resident advocacy groups, landlords) over the next few months are anticipated to be voluminous.
  • At the end of the comment period (which often is extended when there is a high volume of commenters), the FCC will redraft the proposed rules taking into account comments by which it is persuaded.  This can take weeks to months.  The proposed rules can be materially changed, tabled indefinitely, dropped altogether, or eventually put to a vote of the full FCC board. 
  • While there is a high likelihood (based on past rule changes in this area) that any changes will be minor and business will remain substantially as usual, if there are material changes, it is almost certain that larger industry players will quickly file lawsuits to delay or prevent implementation of the rules.  Such lawsuits often result in “staying” the proposed rules implementation while the courts can determine if the FCC actions were lawful.  During any such stay, the new rules will be inapplicable.  Ultimate resolution via the courts could take months or even years.  Should litigation proceed through the system to the Supreme Court, and given recent SCOTUS decisions, there is a good chance that the FCC’s overreach into contractual bulk arrangements would be deemed beyond the scope of that agency’s authority and void absent Congressional action (that is, changes going through the normal legislative process).

Regardless of the political and regulatory climate, Onboard has, since our inception, remained steadfast in our commitment to enhancing our comprehensive technology management platform.

At Onboard, internally we are:

  • Continuously developing and releasing platform features and offering various bulk management methods to ensure adaptability in enrollment, opt-in/out management, agreement management, fee handling, service setup, and overall amenity-related support.
  • Developing new platform features to further enhance client experience and provide portfolio-wide capabilities to manage telecom and technology contracts, on-site technologies, resident programs, and reporting insights.
  • Regularly updating the resident portal and program resources, including FAQs, setup instructions, provider resources, site-level flyers, engagement notifications, and reporting.
  • Monitoring and suggesting adjustments to bulk programs and resident agreements, aligning with new requirements for each housing type, whether low income, voucher-based, opt-in/opt-out, etc.
  • Ensuring our Resident Support Agents, Community Support, Account Managers, Implementation Managers, and Portfolio Strategists are well-informed with the latest information.

Externally we are:

  • Highlighting the logistical challenges and negative effects of implementing widespread bulk policy restrictions given that millions of residents living in multi-tenant dwelling environments rely on bulk contracts for low-cost, high-speed internet. These include every housing type across the spectrum.
  • Highlighting the incorrect assumption that there are a material amount of internet providers willing or even capable of offering comparable services to millions of multi-dwelling units due to high capital costs, deliverability limitations, etc. It is extremely expensive to build into an existing apartment community and the number of providers that could reasonably serve these millions of units to drive competition are scarce to non-existent. Material changes to bulk contracts would inevitably lead to higher retail costs, lower service quality, and diminished support and capabilities, thus negatively affecting the stakeholder these proposed changes are trying to help, the resident end user.
  • Advocating for the benefits of bulk technologies, including resident cost savings and enhanced connectivity to prepare to address other important essential items such as comprehensive energy monitoring and consumption reduction, property-wide connectivity for operational efficiencies, and other current or future technologies that require WiFi connectivity married with custom site-level experiences.
  • Emphasizing that bulk arrangements play a pivotal role in the development and deployment of contemporary property infrastructure, the operation of buildings, and enhancing the resident experience. By adopting bulk internet solutions, properties can significantly enhance the delivery and performance of a variety of services while reducing costs.

These services include but are not limited to: 

  • Smart Home (i.e. thermostats, lighting controls, leak detection systems etc.)
  • Access Control
  • Energy Monitoring
  • Streaming Media
  • Security Systems
  • EV Charging
  • Sustainability Initiatives 
  • Informing internet service providers on the logistical challenges of managing bulk technology and resident programs and emphasizing the importance of improved resident and operational experiences for success.
  • Recommending amenity fees based on win-win value to clients and residents, in an effort to reduce the heartburn that often accompanies proposed policy changes from the FCC and is a driver of nearly all resident complaints.


Bulk internet, technology, and resident programs are paving the way for the next generation of modern living in all housing types, and are integral components driving our platform, product roadmap, and property experience. We proceed forward as usual while planning for and enhancing our services and platform to meet the current and future needs of more efficient and connected communities and homes.

We recognize the importance of stability and reliability in your operations, and we’re committed to supporting you and your teams every step of the way.

Thank you for your continued trust in Onboard.




Scott Russell, ceo

About the Author

Scott Russell

Former VP of business development and ancillary services at Cottonwood Residential. MDU/telecom since 2006 at Renters Legal Liability and CCI Network Services. Currently serves as CEO & Cofounder at Onboard.