Good Question: Can you clear up confusion over cheaper internet options?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— We know there are so many people who have trouble getting online– specifically paying for it. The pandemic has put the spotlight on just how tough it is.

You do have new options to cut the costs, but viewers are telling News10NBC’s Brennan Somers it’s all confusing.

Rheada wanted to know: "A month or two ago Channel 10 did a story on Gov. Cuomo’s plan to lower internet fees to $15.00 a month for qualifying households. Now there is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Are these one and the same?… Could you point me in the right direction I would really appreciate it!"

We can help.
Let’s start with New York’s new law– internet for just $15 a month.

That change is part of the state budget to help low-income families and underserved communities.
Broadband companies must offer it.

Who does this serve? 7 million people.

The governor’s announcement states it covers “households who are eligible or receiving free or reduced-price lunch, supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits, Medicaid benefits, the senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions, or an affordability benefit from a utility.”

The state also launched a new portal allowing you to find affordable internet in your community. There’s a fight in the courts over the mandate for $15 plans before the June 15 deadline to offer them.

More about that in a second.

As for the other help through the Emergency Broadband Benefit? You can apply through the federal program giving up to $50 a month for internet costs.

So who qualifies?

  • Household income at or below 135% of the federal poverty line
  • Participation in safety net programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Public Housing Assistance, Veterans or Survivors Pension Benefits.
  • Proof of substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, with a total household income at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
  • Participation in free and reduced-price school lunch program for the 2019-2020 or 2020-21 school year.

Again, there are still some legal questions over the $15 a month internet law. Internet service providers are suing NY claiming the Federal Communications Act prevents the state from regulating broadband rates.

Governor Cuomo argues his effort will help create "a more fair and just society" post-pandemic and if they want to fight it "bring it on."

Both sides have a court date coming up the first week of June.


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