To get to their consumers, broadband providers have to deal with a very literal gatekeeper: your apartment's resident welfare association. Broadband providers can't just start installing their equipment and lay out cables without approval from the RWA. And that approval usually comes at a cost. Many broadband players are forced to cough up high amounts of rent to lay the cabling and infrastructure that they need to reach residents. Many apartment complexes and buildings don't have basic telecom infrastructure, like network cable ports in the walls of individual apartments. Indeed, this is not a legal requirement. The result is that the first broadband provider that comes to an apartment complex builds out a disproportionate amount of this infrastructure. Not to mention that all this equally applies to wireless carriers like Jio and Idea who need in-building access to boost signal sometimes. This status quo can significantly skew the internet access marketplace in buildings. Regulatory intervention A building resident's access to any Internet provider is now dictated by which ISPs are allowed inside their building. And every ISP has to deal with apartment unions before reaching consumers. This pits ISPs not only against building administrators, but also against each other — many apartment unions sign exclusive commercial agreements with ISPs, locking their residents into a single provider, even if others are available in the neighbourhood. Last year, telecom regulator TRAI put out a consultation paper on this issue, and recommended (pdf) that all Internet providers should be required to share the network infrastructure that…
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