Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) today announced a win in the case of Telecommunications v. James, a federal lawsuit against a policy that, if implemented, would slow the expansion of broadband internet to customers in rural areas. Expressing his opposition to the New York State Affordable Broadband Act (A-3006C), a proposal mandating that internet service providers offer low-income customers a $15 per month plan for high-speed broadband internet service, Tague warned as the bill was debated that it would imperil future broadband expansion into rural areas.
“I opposed this bill when it was passed because I care deeply about the expansion of affordable internet into underserved communities,” said Tague. “I am thankful that the court was able to see how this policy would do the opposite of what was intended by making it more difficult for rural internet service providers to expand their service areas.”
In their ruling on the case, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York stated, “the evidence before the Court suggests the ABA (Affordable Broadband Act) may not achieve its desired effect – and in fact reduce Internet access statewide.” A preliminary injunction was placed against the statutory mandate that internet service providers offer a $15 per month broadband plan.
Projects related to expansion into underserved areas are often spearheaded by local internet service providers, who would be forced to provide customers with a $15 per month offering so long as they provide internet to over 20,000 households under this law. Many of these smaller companies that cross this threshold do not earn enough revenue to absorb the cost of providing this low-cost service, and being forced to offer such a plan would make putting funds aside for fiber expansion projects incredibly difficult.
“Overcoming affordability and availability issues to get more New Yorkers connected is something we all want, but in doing so it’s critical we recognize the realities of the industry and listen to those who know better than anyone what it’ll take to get more of our neighbors online,” said Tague.