New York Legislation Would Reduce Broadband Provider Costs

The legislation will help address increasing costs faced by broadband providers in recent years, and ensure residents in rural parts of the state have access to reliable Internet service, sponsors of the bill have said.

Closeup of a pile of yellow broadband cables with blue caps.
(TNS) — With just days left in the legislative session, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D- Round Lake, is hopeful there is still time to pass legislation she introduced earlier this year that aims to expand broadband service in rural parts of the state.

The legislation will help address increasing costs faced by broadband providers in recent years, and ensure residents in rural parts of the state have access to reliable internet service, Woerner said.

"If we have learned anything in the past year, it is the extent to which we require a reliable internet connection to function in the world," she said in a statement. "This is one step to assure that residents of rural communities have access to the technology that most of the rest of the state takes for granted."

The legislation, first introduced in January, would streamline the contract process broadband providers must go through when expanding service.

Under current regulations, providers must negotiate to use each utility pole individually before expanding service.

But the legislation would allow internet-service companies to negotiate the use of all utility poles in a city, town or village, which will create a more efficient process.

"This would increase the likelihood that cable companies will service more areas of the state and ensure that all homes within a city, town or village receive the same level of service," a memo attached to the legislation reads.

The legislation would also prohibit utility pole owners from passing the cost of replacing an aging pole onto broadband providers in most cases.

Utility pole owners can still charge broadband providers to replace an existing pole if it is too low to the ground to accommodate new infrastructure, according to the law.

"This practice of unfairly shifting all the replacement costs to prospective attachers can massively increase the cost of deploying necessary broadband infrastructure to underserved parts of the state, disincentivizing such investment overall in these areas," the memo reads.

It's unclear if the legislation, which is making its way through committee, will pass before the end of session. There are just six days remaining in the legislative session. The legislation comes as several North Country counties seek to complete mapping surveys that will identify what parts of the region are without reliable internet service.

Warren and Washington counties are completing similar surveys in the hopes of using the results to apply for state and federal grants.

© 2021 The Post Star (Glens Falls, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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