Karl Bode, reporting for TechDirt: Recently, New York State passed a new law demanding that regional broadband providers (Verizon, Charter Spectrum, and Altice) provide low-income consumers $15, 25 Mbps broadband tiers to help them survive COVID. The goal: to try and help struggling Americans afford the high cost of broadband during an historic health crisis. Under the proposal ISPs are also allowed to offer $20, 200 Mbps tiers, with any price increases capped at two percent per year. U.S. Regulators engaging in anything even close to price regulation of regional monopolies is, again, said monopolies’ worst nightmare.
As a result, the broadband industry quickly sued New York, insisting that the state is forbidden from passing such a law thanks in part to the Trump administration’s net neutrality repeal (which basically attempted to lobotomize state consumer protection authority in addition to killing popular net neutrality rules). As the case heads to court, it could have broader implications for other state efforts to mandate lower costs for consumers (in times of crisis or not): “The industry fear is that other states might impose requirements far more onerous than what New York requires, such as by further lowering the price, raising the speed requirements, or expanding the eligibility pool to make broadband affordable for middle-class customers,” added Levin.