It’s official, according to planetdish.com, Governor Cuomo signs the Affordable Broadband bill into law at an event located at the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo, NY. The Affordable Broadband law requires that internet providers provide a low cost high speed internet option to low income households that qualify for it for only $15 a month. This program is the first of its kind in the nation to so aggressively attempt to close the digital divide anywhere in the United States. Lawmakers estimate that this new program is projected to positively impact approximately 2.7 million households statewide.
Details Of The Affordable Broadband Bill
According to internetnearme.com, this new New York State law from the Affordable Broadband Bill requires all internet providers servicing New York State residents to offer high speed internet to qualifying low income households at $15 per month. Within the law, internet providers will provide the high speed internet access and any required equipment needed to utilize their service such as a modem and router under that $15 a month.
Who Qualifies For Low Cost Internet?
Interested New Yorkers must qualify for the Affordable Broadband program in order to take advantage of this low cost pricing. In order to stay qualified for the Affordable Broadband program, households may have to requalify each year like the other benefits they may be receiving. Here are the ways households can qualify for this affordable internet program:
- Affordability benefit from a utility
- Free or reduced priced school lunch
- Senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
How To Apply For $15 A Month High Speed Internet
Governor Cuomo did not say during the event how people could apply for the low cost internet service option through the Affordable Broadband law or when it will start. More details on how to apply are coming soon.
The Launch Of The Affordable Broadband Portal
In addition to announcing the new Affordable Broadband law, Governor Cuomo also announced the launch of the Affordable Broadband Portal to assist New Yorkers in finding affordable broadband programs in their area that may service their address. Within the portal it includes other important information like the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that many New Yorkers may be unaware of. In that program, qualifying households would be eligible for a $50 a month subsidy towards high speed broadband internet service and a one time discount of up to $100 on a desktop, laptop computer or tablet.
Participating Internet Providers
All internet providers serving New York state residents must offer high speed internet service to qualifying low income households for $15 a month. Here are some of the internet providers serving New York State:
- Charter Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable)
- Consolidated Communications (formerly Fairpoint Communications)
- Frontier Communications
- Greenlight Networks
- Starry Internet
- Verizon FiOS
- Viasat (formerly Excede and WildBlue)
Why The Affordable Broadband Law Is Important
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to many New Yorkers and Americans nationwide just how important high speed broadband internet access truly is. During Governor Cuomo’s speech at the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo, NY he reaffirmed something we all already know; the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed what normal is and every family needs to have access to affordable internet at home.
Families bring their children into public libraries and coffeeshops daily to do homework. Some adults are sitting in their cars in parking lots outside of restaurants with free public Wi-Fi to apply for unemployment benefits and find jobs.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families can’t even do this much due to social distancing, lower capacity percentage mandates, earlier closing times and business closures. Having internet access on a smartphone isn’t reliable or workable internet for the whole family to use. Adults and children in households without internet access are at a serious disadvantage over houses that do.
Plus, remote working, remote learning, and telemedicine are not going away even post COVID-19 pandemic. To work, learn and have access to modern medicine, New Yorkers need broadband access just like any other utility. Families shouldn’t have to forgo reliable home internet service or sacrifice putting food on the table or education due to their economic situation. Allowing families to forego basic high speed internet access ultimately will not help them ever improve their economic situation.
If you’re somehow not convinced that the Affordable Broadband Program is needed, here is why it is. By ensuring all New Yorkers have high speed broadband internet access at an affordable price, they can do the following activities from the comfort of their own home:
- Adults can work from home
- Apply to jobs and better paying, better work life balance jobs
- Children can study, complete homework and attend online classes
- Have access to higher education
- Pay bills online
- Stay in touch with friends and family no matter where they live
- Stay up to date with local and world news
How Much Does High Speed Broadband Internet Access Cost?
High speed broadband internet is expensive across the country and costs consumers $19.99 a month to $299.99 a month depending on where you live and what internet speeds are available to you. In New York State specifically, residents can expect for service to cost on average more than $50 a month for what the FCC considers broadband internet. Broadband internet according to the FCC is internet service with a minimum of 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. While this service is better than none at all, these speeds are the bare minimum for the majority of connected households today.
Upcoming State Study On High Speed Broadband Internet
New York State plans to conduct a thorough statewide mapping study on high speed broadband internet and report on all of their findings within one year. The study will collect information like availability, reliability and cost of high speed broadband internet service everywhere in the state. It’s unclear exactly what the state plans on doing with that information, but governor Cuomo hints that these findings will further guide efforts in making high speed broadband internet accessible and affordable for all the residents of New York State.