Ryan and Rozic Announce Legislation to Ensure Oversight of Broadband in New York

Legislation authorizes the Public Service Commission to exercise oversight and regulations over broadband

Legislators: Broadband is a necessity, not a luxury – for education, healthcare, and economic development

Albany, NY -- State Senator Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D, WF-Queens) announced legislation that will authorize the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to oversee broadband and VoIP service in New York. The legislation would give the PSC oversight authority on broadband infrastructure resiliency, public safety, and data collection with the goal of protecting consumers and closing the digital divide. 

Senator Sean Ryan said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified our reliance on internet access in our daily lives. During the country’s recovery from the pandemic, people without reliable access to high-speed internet have suffered disproportionately. The New York Broadband Resiliency, Public Safety and Quality Act affirms what we have long known – that access to high-speed broadband service is essential to our way of life. This bill will ensure the Public Service Commission is authorized to regulate high-speed internet service in New York State as a utility and, in doing so, serve as an important step toward delivering truly universal broadband access to our state.”

“Access to high-speed, quality broadband service is a necessity and essential to New York’s economy, education, and civic life,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “New Yorkers deserve accountability and connectivity when it comes to broadband. This legislation is critical in ensuring that the PSC can regulate this infrastructure and deliver for consumers across New York.”

Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1 said: “Through regulation, we can make sure that our communities have the essential communications services we need for now and for the future. The telecom industry sold legislators on the idea that deregulation was the answer to every problem. It wasn't, and it has made it much more difficult for rural and low-income families to obtain high speed internet service.”

NYPIRG General Counsel Russ Haven said: “The pandemic made it crystal clear: Broadband access is a necessity in the 21st century.In the past year New Yorkers needed internet access to school their children, continue their college educations, access unemployment and other benefits, sign up for vaccinations, and stay safely in touch with family and friends.Assemblymember Rozic's bill will require that the Public Service Commission regulates broadband as an essential utility to help ensure it is accessible, reliable and affordable for all New Yorkers.NYPIRG applauds Assemblymember Rozic and Senator Sean Ryan for their leadership on this issue.”

Chuck Bell, Programs Director for Consumer Reports said: “In the 21st Century, fast, reliable broadband is an essential need for individuals and families. Consumers rely on the internet to attend school and college, work from home and the office, arrange for medical care, and manage their household finances.And over the last 25 years, there has been a huge migration to internet-based telephone service, which consumers rely on to keep in touch with friends and family, and to make calls to first responders during medical and weather emergencies. For all these reasons, it is critical that the New York State Public Service Commission has the authority it needs to provide effective oversight over broadband and VoIP telephone service. Consumer Reports strongly supports the proposed bill to amend the public service law sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and Senator Sean Ryan, to ensure that New York can achieve and deliver on its goals for affordable, accessible and competitive broadband service for consumers.”

AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said: “Affordable, reliable high-speed internet and phone service are now nearly as important to daily life as electricity and running water. The COVID-19 lockdowns, followed by the rollout of the vaccine, demonstrated how critical the internet has become for work, school, health care, and connection to loved ones. AARP is proud to support the Broadband Resiliency, Public Safety and Quality Act to help ensure all New Yorkers have access to quality high-speed internet and voice service at affordable rates.”

This legislation would ensure that state regulators are given unambiguous authority and a clear mandate to establish and enforce appropriate oversight and regulation of broadband and voice over internet protocol service in order to meet New York’s goals of universal, high-quality and affordable internet access.

The legislation follows New York’s first in the nation low income broadband program that guarantees high speed internet service for $15 per month to any family that is eligible or receiving free or reduced-price lunch, supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits, Medicaid benefits, the senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions, or an affordability benefit from a utility.