NY 2021-22 Budget – Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act

The original article can be found here. This post is a summary of that article.

To editorialize before the article summary, This is big news for New York. If this passes, this is the first major step towards real fairness and transparency from our Internet Providers; Optimum included. Expect them to fight this legislation tooth and nail.

Summary of key points:

  • The New York State has come to an agreement on the 2021-2022 budget, which is set to include language requiring affordable internet for low-income households. Now, most ISPs in New York will be required to offer separate packages for low-income consumers starting at $15/month, including taxes, fees, and any equipment rental costs.
  • The $15/month plan will include internet speeds of 25Mbps DL/10Mbps UL. This is the minimum speed defined as “high-speed” in the current definition of broadband internet. That may change in the future if the PSC revises their Broadband definition.
  • Those speeds would be enough for web browsing and light streaming, but may pose an issue for families with many connected devices.
  • If higher speeds are needed, a 200Mbps plan will be available, with a price capped at $20/month.
  • After five years, ISPs have the option to bump up the price of these plans by either the rate of inflation, or a small percentage change.
  • And after two years, the state Public Service Commission will also have the option to raise the minimum download speed.

Who is eligible?

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Either a senior citizen of disability rent increase exemption
  • Free or reduced-price lunch at school

When will these plans go into effect?

  • Most large ISPs will be required to start offering those plans to low-income New Yorker residents as soon as two months after the budget is passed. That’s expected to happen this week, placing the availability of those plans at the start of June.
  • Per the legislation, ISPs with less than 20k subscribers shouldn’t have to provide these separate plans, if the PSC determines the change would be a major burden on the company. This would not affect the largest ISPs: AlticeUSA, Spectrum, Verizon, Comcast, RCN.
  • Internet providers in violation of this law could be subject to a consumer-paid restitution, as well as a $1000 fine per violation.

Ongoing accessibility and affordability research

  • New York is requiring the Public Service Commission to research the affordability and accessibility of statewide High-Speed internet access.
  • This new law, the “Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act”, requires the agency to review reliability and access at the census block level.
  • A minimum of two public hearings are required to be held by the agency, one upstate and one downstate.


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