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This entry was published on 2021-11-19
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SECTION 399-ZZZZZ
Broadband service for low-income consumers
General Business (GBS) CHAPTER 20, ARTICLE 26
* § 399-zzzzz. Broadband service for low-income consumers. 1. For the
purposes of this section, the term "broadband service" shall mean a
mass-market retail service that provides the capability to transmit data
to and receive data from all or substantially all internet endpoints,
including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the
operation of the communications service provided by a wireline, fixed
wireless or satellite service provider, but shall not include dial-up
service.

2. Every person, business, corporation, or their agents providing or
seeking to provide wireline, fixed wireless or satellite broadband
service in New York state shall, no later than sixty days after the
effective date of this section, offer high speed broadband service to
low-income consumers whose household: (a) is eligible for free or
reduced-priced lunch through the National School Lunch Program; or (b)
is eligible for, or receiving the supplemental nutrition assistance
program benefits; or (c) is eligible for, or receiving Medicaid
benefits; or (d) is eligible for, or enrolled in senior citizen rent
increase exemption; or (e) is eligible for, or enrolled in disability
rent increase exemption; or (f) is a recipient of an affordability
benefit from a utility. Such low-income broadband service shall provide
a minimum download speed equal to the greater of twenty-five megabits
per second download speed or the download speed of the provider's
existing low-income broadband service sold to customers in the state
subject to exceptions adopted by the Public Service Commission where
such download speed is not reasonably practicable.

3. Broadband service for low-income consumers, as set forth in this
section, shall be provided at a cost of no more than fifteen dollars per
month, inclusive of any recurring taxes and fees such as recurring
rental fees for service provider equipment required to obtain broadband
service and usage fees. Broadband service providers shall allow
low-income broadband service subscribers to purchase standalone or
bundled cable and/or phone services separately. Broadband service
providers may, once every five years, and after thirty days' notice to
its customers and the department of public service, increase the price
of this service by the lesser of the most recent change in the consumer
price index or a maximum of two percent per year of the price for such
service.

4. A broadband service provider who offers a high speed broadband
service to eligible low-income customers, as such term is used in
subdivision two of this section, at a download speed of two hundred
megabits per second or greater at a cost of no more than twenty dollars
per month, inclusive of any recurring taxes and fees such as recurring
rental fees for service provider equipment required to obtain broadband
service and usage fees, shall be considered to be in compliance with the
requirements of subdivisions two and three of this section. Such
providers may, once every two years, and after thirty days' notice to
its customers and the department of public service, increase the price
of such service by the lesser of the most recent change in the consumer
price index or a maximum of two percent per year of the price for such
service.

5. The requirements of subdivisions two and three of this section
shall not apply to any broadband service provider providing service to
no more than twenty thousand households, if the public service
commission determines that compliance with such requirements would
result in unreasonable or unsustainable financial impact on the
broadband service provider.

6. Any contract or agreement for broadband service targeted to
low-income consumers provided by an entity described in subdivision two
of this section, pursuant to this section or otherwise, shall have the
same terms and conditions, other than price and speed set pursuant to
this section, as for the regularly priced offerings for similar service
provided by such entity.

7. Every person, business, corporation, or their agents providing or
seeking to provide broadband service in New York state shall make all
commercially reasonable efforts to promote and advertise the
availability of broadband service for low-income consumers including,
but not limited to, the prominent display of, and enrollment procedures
for, such service on its website and in any written and commercial
promotional materials developed to inform consumers who may be eligible
for service pursuant to this section.

8. Every person, business, corporation, or their agents providing or
seeking to provide broadband service in New York state shall annually
submit to the department of public service, no later than November
fifteenth after the effective date of this act, and annually thereafter,
a compliance report setting forth: (a) a description of the service
offered pursuant to this section; (b) the number of consumers enrolled
in such service; (c) a description of the procedures being used to
verify the eligibility of customers receiving such service; (d) a
description and samples of the advertising or marketing efforts
undertaken to advertise or promote such service; (e) a description of
all retail rate products, including pricing, offered by such person,
business, corporation, or their agents; (f) a description, including
speed and price, of all broadband products offered in the state of New
York; (g) a description of the number of customers in arrears for the
payment for broadband service, percentage of customers in arrears that
qualify for low-income broadband service, the number of households that
have had their service terminated as a result of non-payment, the number
of customers whose service was terminated for arrears arising from
non-payment for services other than broadband service, and the number of
households that have their broadband service restored after being
delinquent on their payments; and such other information as the
department of public service may require.

9. The department of public service shall, within two years of the
effective date of this section and at least every five years thereafter,
undertake a proceeding to determine if the minimum broadband download
speed in this section should be increased to the federal communications
commission's benchmark broadband download speed, or to another minimum
broadband download speed if the federal communications commission has
not increased its benchmark by such date. The department of public
service shall also: (a) undertake appropriate measures to inform the
public about available broadband products, including retail rate product
offerings and low-income offerings; and (b) periodically, but no less
than once every five years, review eligibility requirements for the
low-income service required pursuant to this section, and update such
requirements as may be necessary to meet the needs of consumers.

10. Whenever there shall be a violation of this section, an
application may be made by the attorney general in the name of the
people of the state of New York to a court or justice having
jurisdiction by a special proceeding to issue an injunction, and upon
notice to the defendant of not less than five days, to enjoin and
restrain the continuance of such violation; and if it shall appear to
the satisfaction of the court or justice that the defendant has, in
fact, violated this section, an injunction may be issued by the court or
justice, enjoining and restraining any further violations, without
requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged
thereby. In any such proceeding, the court may make allowances to the
attorney general as provided in paragraph six of subdivision (a) of
section eighty-three hundred three of the civil practice law and rules,
and direct restitution. Whenever the court shall determine that a
violation of this section has occurred, the court may impose a civil
penalty of not more than one thousand dollars per violation. In
connection with any such proposed application, the attorney general is
authorized to take proof and make a determination of the relevant facts
and to issue subpoenas in accordance with the civil practice law and
rules.

* NB There are 3 § 399-zzzzz's