The New York Public Service Commission this week stayed and suspended proceedings and requests for comment about a state law that would have required broadband providers to offer a $15 plan to low-income households.
It is the second blow that the law has sustained this month, following a U.S. Eastern District Court of New York preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the rule while awaiting a final decision on the legality of the $15 plan requirement.
The $15 low-income broadband plan had its genesis in the Affordable Broadband Act (ABA) adopted by the New York state legislature in April. The requirement was scheduled to go into effect this month, but its future is now uncertain.
In May, broadband provider associations including New York State Telecommunications Association (NYSTA), CTIA, USTelecom, NTCA, and ACA Connects, sued the state, arguing that New York does not have legal authority to regulate internet pricing and therefore the mandate is unenforceable.
The ABA includes an exemption for broadband providers serving fewer than 20,000 households if the providers can demonstrate that complying with the $15 mandate would result in unreasonable or unsustainable financial impact. The New York PSC’s administrative proceeding and request for comment that have now been suspended would have explored how to measure that unreasonable or unsustainable financial impact.
In the order issued this week, the interim chair of the New York PSC said the decision was a result of the District Court’s preliminary injunction.
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association praised the New York PSC’s decision in a press release that seems to reflect the views of other broadband providers as well.
“While well intentioned, the ABA would have undermined the business plans of those companies bridging digital divides in New York, resulting in less broadband deployment for areas that need it most,” said Louis Peraertz, WISPA vice president of policy, in the release.
“At a time when policymakers have redoubled their efforts to get all Americans online, the ABA would have frustrated these important policy prerogatives, harming the outlay of life-bettering internet access to such services as telemedicine, distance learning, remote work and green-tech, among others.”