Upstate lawmakers hope to pass legislation that aims to improve access to internet before session ends

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State lawmakers are taking a look at different bills to make internet more affordable and accessible. 

“I have constituents that take every Zoom meeting from their car from a library over 20 minutes away,” said State Senator Michelle Hinchey.

Senator Hinchey and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner are carrying a bipartisan bill that would make it easier and more affordable for broadband providers to install internet service on utility or telephone poles. They say this will especially help residents in rural areas.

“The current regulatory environment, the combination of laws and regulations have driven up the cost of delivering broadband from a break-even point of four houses per mile to now near twelve houses per mile,” said Assemblymember Carrie Woerner.

There’s another bipartisan bill in the legislature that would make broadband a utility that the Public Service Commission would oversee. Advocates say that would make providers more accountable. 

“I think that these are complimentary efforts that need to happen,” Assemblymember Woerner said.

In 2015, New York State set up a $500 million program to invest in broadband access. This year’s budget also included a measure that internet service providers must offer $15 per month internet to low-income households. Additionally money was allocated to the PSC to map and study broadband in the state.

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