ALBANY, NY – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to further expand high-speed broadband in New York State.
And with the legislative session scheduled to end next week, the pressure is on to get legislation aimed to help with that effort passed.
NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca takes a look at some of the proposals on the table.
Having reliable internet these days is so important, whether you’re using WIFI on your phone or hopping onto a meeting online.
And lawmakers are taking a look at different bills to make internet more affordable and accessible.
((Michelle Hinchey, NYS Senator)) I have constituents that take every Zoom meeting from their car from a library over 20 minutes away.
Senator Michelle 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.
((Carrie Woerner, NYS Assemblymember)) 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.
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.
((Carrie Woerner, NYS Assemblymember)) I think that these are complimentary efforts that need to happen.
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.