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Bill to expand access to affordable broadband in NY heads to Senate

Posted at 2:54 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 14:54:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced Tuesday a bill to expand access to affordable broadband in New York has passed the NYS Assembly unanimously and now heads to the Senate.

"Far too many New Yorkers lack access to high-speed broadband, experience inadequate speeds, or are forced to pay too much due to lack of competition," said Ryan.

According to Ryan, in WNY costs for broadband are higher in low-income and rural communities.

"According to a 2019 FCC report, nearly 20% of New York State residents lack access to broadband. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to rely on internet access more than ever before – from ordering groceries to attending school and meetings over zoom – highlighting the need to ensure all residents and homes are covered," said Ryan.

The bill, which would take a multi-step approach to ensure every New Yorker has affordable high-speed internet, would direct New York State’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to:

  • Collect better data to understand who has and does not have access to broadband.
  • Determine the availability, quality, reliability, and affordability of service across the state, and produce a detailed access map on its website indicating internet service by location.
  • Investigate instances where local agreements to build out broadband and deliver a certain level of service have not been complied with.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of relying solely on the market competition to fulfill the goal of universal, high-speed, affordable broadband.
  • Submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature within one year of effective date of this act, and an updated report annually thereafter;
  • Hold at least four regional public hearings across the state within one year of the effective date of this act to solicit public input;
  • Work with internet service providers in the state to prioritize access to broadband and fiber optic services for communities that have experienced negative economic and social impacts due to absent or insufficient service; and
  • Authorizes the PSC to receive information from other departments and agencies to carry out its powers and duties.

“Even before the Pandemic hit, access to high-speed broadband was critically important in our modern economy. The pandemic has magnified the problem of poor internet access here in New York, and around our nation," said Ryan.