The State of New York has mandated that broadband service providers offer a $15 broadband service tier to low-income households. The mandate was included in the state’s budget authorization bill, and service providers have 60 days to comply.
The New York $15 low-income broadband service must offer at least 25 Mbps. Additionally, a 100 Mbps tier can be offered for $20. To be eligible for the service, a household must include a member eligible for discounted school lunches or receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly referred to as food stamps. There are other qualifying factors as well.
There is a provision in the legislation that exempts smaller broadband carriers who serve 20K households or less who can demonstrate financial hardship from the mandate, according to a report from Government Technology.
The New York legislation doesn’t appear to offer any supplements or subsidies to carriers who provide the $15 broadband service. Although, I would assume some of these low-income households would qualify for the federal Lifeline subsidy program, which is a part of the Universal Service Fund (USF) program.
The pandemic has highlighted and exposed the disadvantages created by lack of broadband in the home, which hits low income families particularly hard. That reality has led to a variety of new funding programs and surely played a role in this mandate.
Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to ban companies from New York if they don’t comply with the $15 broadband service mandate.
“To these internet companies, I say, again, you don’t operate in the state of New York by an act of God — you operate in the state of New York by the will of the people,” said Cuomo at a press briefing this week. “If you do not do this, you will lose your franchise in the state of New York and that’s a promise.”
New York had already mandated Charter to offer a similar program as a condition of its acquisition of Time Warner cable. This new legislation in effect extends the mandate to other carriers who serve the state.
Makes you wonder how many other states may follow New York’s lead with broadband service mandates for low-income households.