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Home / Articles / Common Terms / Cable demarcation point - FCC Sheet Rock Order - 47 CFR 76.5
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07
March
2012

Cable demarcation point - FCC Sheet Rock Order - 47 CFR 76.5

The cable demarcation point is the point at which responsibility for inside wiring changes from the service provider to the resident-subscriber. In general, wiring on the provider’s side of the demarcation point is the provider’s responsibility, and wiring on the subscriber’s side is the subscriber’s responsibility. In an MDU context, the demarcation point is the point at which a competing service provider can gain access to existing inside wiring to provide service to its subscribers.

The FCC defines the cable demarcation point as “a point at (or about) twelve inches outside of where the cable wire enters the subscriber's dwelling unit, or, where the wire is physically inaccessible at such point, the closest practicable point thereto that does not require access to the individual subscriber's dwelling unit” (47 C.F.R. § 76.5(mm)(2)).

However, MDU owners are reluctant to allow a competitive provider to access the wiring at the 12-inch point due to the disruption caused by drilling through sheet rock in hallways. Therefore, in its “Sheet Rock Order” (Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling (CS Docket No. 95-184, rel. June 8, 2007)), the FCC ruled that wiring behind sheet rock or wall board is “physically inaccessible,” such that the demarcation point is located at the first location, moving away from the subscriber’s unit, where the wiring is accessible. Usually, that location is at the incumbent’s junction box.

This change allows a competitive provider to access existing inside wiring at the lock box and, in some circumstances, to utilize that wiring without the property owner having to invoke the FCC’s inside wiring rules.

Furthermore, the incumbent cable provider has a legal obligation under FCC regulations to take affirmative steps to facilitate an alternative video provider’s access to wiring at the demarcation point. Therefore (assuming that the wiring is behind sheet rock at the 12-inch mark), the incumbent cable operator is prohibited by FCC regulations from blocking a competitor’s access to the cable home wiring at the point where the wiring terminates at the incumbent’s junction box.

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