BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB/WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law that will require all internet service providers who operate in New York state to offer high-speed internet for $15 per month for eligible low-income families. He was in Buffalo on Friday morning to announce the measure at the Northland Workforce Training Center.
According to the governor, the $15 per month package will include all equipment and fees associated with high-speed internet service. “It’s a moral duty. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Joined by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the governor also announced that a free plan—for students and families who cannot afford the $15—that would come through ConnectEd New York. The money for that comes from Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation.
“The key to success is always the same, it is access: Access to education , access to capital, access to banking; it is about access,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Access today is not a highway system, it’s not a phone call. Access today is the internet system and the broadband system.
The governor said this law is the first of its kind in the nation.
“So we’re going to sign a law today that is very simple, but very profound,” Cuomo said. “The law requires all ISPs in the state, if you do business in this state, all internet providers must provide offer high-speed internet at an affordable cost: $15 per month, period. All equipment, all fees, etc. That’s the cost that they must provide to any low-income family in this state and low-income are people who qualify for government assistance. That, my friend , is how we democratize access to society and services.”
“People need to have access to good quality internet,” said Peoples-Stokes. “I think most people are walking around with a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean they have access to internet. I know there are some people who are literally bringing their children to the library to do homework, people sitting in their cars outside McDonald’s, Taco Bell, just to get access to the Wi-Fi.”
The governor said the affordable broadband law was the result from the findings from the Reimagine New York State Commission, formed earlier in the pandemic to “maximize opportunities for positive transformation in this moment.”
“The Reimagine Commission was one of the best minds on the globe, literally, who gave us their time in all different fields to assess the situation and find out how to learn and how to grow,” Cuomo said.
Dr. Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, was present at Friday’s conference. He spoke of the need for internet access so that children are still able to learn. “We ranked that this issue of universal connectivity as the first and most important that has come out of Reimagine New York,” said Schmidt, who chairs the REimagine New York State Commissionmember. “I’m beyond proud of what this state has done to make this $15 per month affordable internet law for the right people.”
“The law says if you are a low-income family, the company cannot charge you more than $15 per month,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is the law. Do I expect pushback from the companies? Yes, the companies are not happy with me and they’re not happy with the law. Why? because they will make less profit. I understand that, but also this is a franchise that they have in the state of New York and I take a different posture against these big corporations then they’re accustomed to.
“15 a month, total fee. Not, ‘Then taxes’; total fee,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Yes, that will limit the profit of some of these big corporations, but trust me they’re not going to starve.”
Watch the full announcement here: