New York's new low-income broadband law is already under fire by Big Telecom

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,918   +763
Staff member
Why it matters: The recent pandemic has forced many families to change. Some are now working from home permanently. Some children have gone back to school, but many are still enrolled in distance learning. So the need for reliable and fast internet connections is more important for more people than it was just one year ago.

This month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that requires New York internet providers to provide low-income households broadband service for $15 per month. It is not a subsidy where the state covers the difference, but a mandate that ISPs lower their high-speed internet rates for eligible applicants.

"Remote learning, remote working, and telemedicine are not going away. This program—the first of its kind in the nation—will ensure that no New Yorker will have to forego having reliable home internet service and no child's education will have to suffer due to their economic situation," Governor Cuomo said in a televised statement (below).

Several telecom groups are pushing back on the law. USTelecom, CTIA, the New York State Telecommunications Association, and others are suing the state, claiming it lacks the authority to dictate broadband rates. Axios notes that the coalition of trade organizations states the law will hinder providers' efforts to upgrade their infrastructure.

The plaintiffs point out that rate regulations are the realm of the federal government—specifically the FCC—which already proposed subsidized broadband. Congress approved the program in February.

"While well-intended, this bill is preempted by federal law and ignores the $50 monthly broadband discount recently enacted by Congress, as well as the many unprecedented commitments, donations, and accommodations that broadband providers have made for low-income consumers since the pandemic began," they stated.

For example, Comcast has had a low-income rate plan since 2011, and in February, it doubled download speeds to 50Mbps.

It is also important to point out that the $50 per month federal subsidy, set to launch in May, would almost certainly be a better deal. If you take Comcast as the example, the $10 per month low-income plan gets the customer 50Mbps down/5Mbps up with a 1.2TB monthly data cap.

Conversely, taking advantage of the FCC's Emergency Broadband Relief Program with the same provider gives customers 200Mbps down/5Mbps up with no cap for free or a gigabit plan for $35 per month (based on Xfinity's current rates).

The trade groups point out that New York's law is redundant and supersedes already enacted federal provisions. Of course, one cannot ignore that these groups and the providers they represent have a vested interest in subsidies versus rate mandates.

image credit: Hans Pennink

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,736   +5,147
Here in NYC, mobile WifFi trucks were sent out and parked in high needs areas to service students.

Students also were issued iPads, Chromebooks and Laptops.

But it would make way more sense if those city-issued devices had built in LTE as well as WiFi with city monitored SIM cards.
 

kapital98

Posts: 347   +283
They are natural monoplies. It's less about innovation & more about distribution of profit (as a natural monopoly, an efficient market is impossible).

As a person in rural upstate NY, there are still plenty of places without broadband internet. They don't make news because rural, remote areas have such a low population density.

NY also has a bad track record of working with private companies. After paying Time Warner considerable subsidies, Time Warner never followed through with their promises to expand broadband to rural areas (something many rural states have encountered). They take the money and then claim they don't have to do it.

So, based on nature of the industry and the history, it's not surprising Cuomo would sign this bill.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,497   +5,098
Life in NY is so expensive, it makes little to no sense that Internet should cost $15. I mean, if it is below $50, then it just should be free completely. The government could easily just pay $15 for light Internet subscriptions by themselves, and remove the subscription burden from the poor altogether.
 

Hardware Geek

Posts: 339   +355
Since the FCC is rid of Ajit Pai, why not just declare the internet a "utility", and let the telecoms sue the fed if they don't like it?
Agreed. The internet is no longer a nice to have luxury but is such an integral part of life today. The pandemic proved that (as well as proving republicans are content to let people die instead of wearing a damn mask, because freedom).
 
Guys, wake up, look at beyond borders
here in France, you get FTTH (average) 500Mbps to 1Gbps down and 300mbps up for less than 40$/month in most of towns and ADSL 20/10mbps elsewhere.
no limit on fixed network, only on mobile (from 5 GB to 200 GB per month).
Why American Telcos are taking their clients for so stupid?
 

NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 259   +323
Why stop there? Let’s pass laws that demand free food, free rent, free healthcare, free cars, free education, free houses, free vacations…..hell…just FREE EVERYTHING! I don’t want to work anymore …it’s just too dangerous. You could get hurt and even sick with a virus. Why work and pay for stuff I use when the government can just make laws that big companies have to give it all to me for free so I can stay home and play video games. …all in exchange for a simple vote for one party. What are we waiting for, people, the revolution is here!!!
 

paul1122

Posts: 83   +50
Agreed. The internet is no longer a nice to have luxury but is such an integral part of life today. The pandemic proved that (as well as proving republicans are content to let people die instead of wearing a damn mask, because freedom).


AND there it is.
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 179   +159
Aren't Charter employees still on strike there?

Anyway, I think they can't let unregulated monopolies do what they want. I have Charter Spectrum, and in my area the price for Spectrum Internet Assist is $17.99 for 30mbps down/4 mbps up. There was a price increase done last year or two from $14.99. What's to stop them from increasing the price again? At least with this law, the price won't get
out of control for low income households.

This, or municipal broadband/fiber, but the same monopolies will fight against it as well.
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,406   +3,906
Agreed. The internet is no longer a nice to have luxury but is such an integral part of life today. The pandemic proved that (as well as proving republicans are content to let people die instead of wearing a damn mask, because freedom).

Yeah, like when Trump wanted to shut down all travel from China and your precious Democrats called him a racist, said there was nothing to worry about, exempted themselves and their friends from lockdowns...yeah, we haven't forgotten.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,319
Why stop there? Let’s pass laws that demand free food, free rent, free healthcare, free cars, free education, free houses, free vacations…..hell…just FREE EVERYTHING! I don’t want to work anymore …it’s just too dangerous. You could get hurt and even sick with a virus. Why work and pay for stuff I use when the government can just make laws that big companies have to give it all to me for free so I can stay home and play video games. …all in exchange for a simple vote for one party. What are we waiting for, people, the revolution is here!!!
So, should I take this to mean you sent all three of your stimulus payments back as a matter of principle?
 

Hardware Geek

Posts: 339   +355
Yeah, like when Trump wanted to shut down all travel from China and your precious Democrats called him a racist, said there was nothing to worry about, exempted themselves and their friends from lockdowns...yeah, we haven't forgotten.
Just like how your republicans refused to wear masks even though hundred of thousands of people have died from covid...because freedom. Then they attacked the capital because they couldn't accept the fact that they lost. Yeah, we haven't forgotten either.
 
Its shoocking to see how divided you are in the usa as a Scandinavian 😕 cant you agree to disagree atleast and respect your fellow man and woman dispete disagreement? much love to u all from sweden 🙂👍
 

Manuel Diego

Posts: 84   +150
"...the coalition of trade organizations states the law will hinder providers' efforts to upgrade their infrastructure."

Fortunatelly, this new bill has not been in effect until now, and hence the US benefits from the very best infrastructure today. And that's why the US citizens pay the most expensive Internet, and have among the slowests connections of the 1st world (https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/internet-costs-compared-worldwide). But beware of satanicredcommunists, they are to blame!