Governor signs bill for affordable high-speed internet

Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 12:07 PM EDT
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WWNY) - Legislation guaranteeing low-priced, high-speed internet to low-income families is now law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill Friday morning in Buffalo.

Cuomo said with the reliance on the internet during the pandemic for things like school, work, and telemedicine, it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

The law says internet companies have to offer a $15-a-month plan for families who qualify.

The governor said a basic high-speed internet plan costs an average of more than $50 per month. Nationwide, 43 percent of those earning less than $30,000 don’t have internet at home.

In Watertown, Community Action Planning Council Family Center Director Mary Mathewson said Friday that many north country families will benefit from affordable internet.

“When you work from home, kids going to school. It’s so important to be able to have reliable, fast internet. It’s huge,” she said.

And for families who can’t afford $15 a month, the legislation signed by Cuomo has another option.

“ConnectED New York will finance 50,000 students and their families for that 15 dollars a month,” the governor said.

Watertown City School District IT Coordinator Dave Campbell says “ConnectED New York” first contacted the school district in March, with the goal of providing WiFi hotspots to students who need them.

According to Campbell, they turned in the application this week, helping about 50 students.

If the new legislation expands ConnectED New York to help families pay for $15 internet, Campbell says the district will be happy to partner with the program again.

People can find affordable internet through the state’s Affordable Broadband Portal.

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