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Telecom groups sue New York over low-income broadband law

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The law would require $15 plans for low-income consumers

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Trade groups representing some of the largest telecom companies, including AT&T and Verizon, are suing New York over a new state law forcing them to provide cheaper broadband plans for low-income families in the state, as first reported by Axios.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would require internet service providers to offer a $15 a month broadband internet option for low-income consumers and families in the state. It’s one of the first laws in the country enforcing such a rule. But groups like USTelecom, CTIA, and the New York State Telecommunications Association argue that the state has no authority to set broadband prices and that the law could impair the companies’ abilities to upgrade their networks in the future.

“While well-intended, this bill is preempted by federal law and ignores the $50 monthly broadband discount recently enacted by Congress, as well as the many unprecedented commitments, donations and accommodations that broadband providers have made for low-income consumers since the pandemic began,” the coalition said in a statement to Axios Friday.

As of right now, some internet providers offer their own low-income options for consumers, but none of these programs are mandated by law. There are other subsidy programs like Lifeline offered by the Federal Communications Commission that help decrease the cost of connectivity for families.

In December, Congress approved over $3 billion to help consumers pay for internet service during the pandemic. The trade groups cite this law as a reason the New York broadband mandate goes too far.