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New York caps low-income broadband at $15 per month

High-speed broadband will carry a $20-per-month cap

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that will require internet service providers (ISPs) operating in the Empire state to offer low-income customers internet access for $15 per month.

The price cap will force ISPs to offer regular broadband for $15 per month, while high-speed broadband caps will sit at $20 per month.  A basic high-speed internet plan, on average, costs more than $50 per month.

New Yorkers will have to qualify as low income to get affordable broadband, such as being eligible or receiving free or reduced-price lunch, supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits, Medicaid benefits, the senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions, or an affordability benefit from a utility. According to the Governor’s office, up to seven million New Yorkers and 2.7 million households could qualify for the deal.

According to reports from the Verge, ISPs must provide the greater of two speeds: either 25 Mbps down or the speed of the ISP’s existing low-income broadband service.

"High-speed internet is essential to our everyday lives, and as we continue to reopen our state and adjust to new norms that have been shaped by the pandemic, we need to make sure every household has access to affordable internet," Governor Cuomo said.

"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."  

In addition to the cap, Governor Cuomo launched the Affordable Broadband Portal to help New Yorkers find affordable broadband programs in their area. The website will give New Yorkers information about the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which includes a $50-per-month subsidy for broadband service, plus up to a $100 discount on computers and tablets.

New York will also conduct an in-depth statewide broadband mapping study to identify its availability, reliability, and cost of high-speed broadband services. It is expected that it will report on its findings within one year.

Last month, Governor Cuomo teamed up with the Ford Foundation and Google founder Eric Schmidt’s Schmidt Futures to launch the ConnectED NY fund to provide around 50,000 students in economically disadvantaged school districts with free internet access through June 2022.

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