Internet access is about to become more affordable following a bill signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that requires Internet Service Providers in the State to offer a $15 broadband option for low-income netizens.
The average price for broadband in New York State, according to NY Assemblymember Amy Paulin, is $50. The new bill sets a $15 cap on regular broadband and $20 on high-speed broadband, but only for people who qualify as being “low income.” Even so, that means seven million people across 2.7 million households can get cheaper broadband.
The bill represents an incredible push for affordable internet. Cuomo says that ISPs must offer either 25Mbps or the current speed for the low-income broadband service, whichever is higher. 25Mbps is what the FCC defines as broadband, but not “high-speed” broadband. This definition has stayed the same since 2015 and many consider it outdated. A bipartisan group of senators recently called for the FCC to redefine broadband as being 100 Mbps down and up, which would better reflect how people use the internet.
25Mbps might not be that fast, but it’s much better to pay $15 for that than $50. It’s even better for those in urban areas such as New York City. This bill caps broadband prices at 200Mbps for $20 per month in these areas.
As well as restricting internet prices for low-income households, Cuomo has also launched the Affordable Broadband Portal; a website connecting people to affordable internet options in their area. Cuomo also announced a partnership with Futures and the Ford Foundation to establish the ConnectEd NY Fund to provide roughly 50,0000 economically-disadvantaged students with free internet service. The fund is set to operate through June 2022.
This is the latest in a series of popular decisions by Governor Cuomo, including legalizing weed for recreational use. Even if these efforts are a way to distract from the scandals surrounding Cuomo, it’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason – and this is definitely the right thing to do.