State lawmakers want to make broadband a utility

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A bill with bipartisan support in the New York State legislature aims to hold internet service providers accountable by making broadband a utility overseen by the Public Service Commission.

“New Yorkers deserve accountability and connectivity when it comes to broadband,” said Assemblywoman and bill sponsor Nily Rozic.

Rozic and State Senate sponsor Sean Ryan say the pandemic has highlighted the need for reliable internet, but that current regulations don’t hit the mark, because broadband isn’t considered a utility like gas, water or electric. 

“We would never accept this type of service from the electric company. Imagine if you were sitting at your dining room table and the lights didn’t work. No one says ‘Oh well, looks like a lot of people are using electricity today,'” Senator Ryan said.

Ryan says making broadband a utility will allow the Public Service Commission to have oversight and ensure consumer protection.

Providers would need to submit information to the PSC about reliability, an emergency preparedness plan, as well as pricing and adoption of data collection information. 

“Other items that we hope the PSC would regulate are things like outages and how much time you have to get service back up and running, and then what the recourse is for the consumer if your services aren’t running,” Ryan said. 

The New York State Budget also included a mandate on internet service providers to offer $15 per month internet to low-income households, as well as money for the PSC to examine and map broadband. 

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