Will the feds set our broadband Internet prices?
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo late last week signed a bill that requires all Internet service providers operating in the state to offer a $15 a month broadband option to low-income consumers.
The action comes just months after lawmakers in California authorized legislation activating net neutrality rules in the state.
Taken together, the developments raise the prospect of ISPs like Verizon and Comcast facing a patchwork of local regulations that could ultimately affect how they price and sell their services.
“If the idea spreads to other states, and the metrics for the law are different, it could have a material financial impact on the ISPs,” warned the financial analysts at New Street Research in a recent report to investors, in discussing New York’s newest law.
There are indications that President Biden wants to influence broadband pricing at the federal level.
“Americans pay too much for the Internet – much more than people in many other countries – and the President is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce Internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money,” the White House wrote in its $100 billion “broadband to all Americans” proposal.
Federal rate regulation
Leading members of the Biden administration are also pushing the concept. “Americans pay among the highest prices for broadband Internet across the world,” Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told the Washington Post.
“Compared to Europe, for example, for the same speed Internet Americans are paying $30, $40, $50 a month more,” Ramamurti continued. “And so, part of what the president’s also committed to is bringing down the price of Internet access for all Americans to make it easier for those folks who have access but can’t afford it, to actually afford it in the future.”
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