NY Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Municipal Broadband Study

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have explored how to deploy government-run broadband in the state, saying that while well-intentioned, the approach was not practical and would require funding better debated during budget negotiations.

The bill, which passed overwhelmingly last spring, would have "establish[ed] a statewide study on the feasibility of the municipal broadband programs," charging the state Department of Public Service and the Urban Development Corp. to develop a business model for state-run broadband.

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"New York State has doled out millions and millions of dollars to privately owned internet service providers in return for promises to expand their high-speed networks," the bill's backers explained in passing it. "However, many communities across the United States are finding that municipal broadband programs serve the public better."

But in vetoing the bill, the governor said in a memo on the decision that, while well intentioned, the bill "would require a significant expenditure of funds and the procurement of outside expertise on a time frame that is unrealistic," given that DPS would have to come up with a business model, for delivering broadband where there is no business case for it, that does not now exist. "Each community is unique and the costs of administering a broadband program would vary based on myriad factors such as the local tax base, environmental impacts, and community character," he wrote. "In order to deliver the study called for in the bill, funding must be allocated. Therefore, this bill would be more appropriately addressed during state budget negotiations."

Cuomo also pointed out that he had already launched a Broadband for All initiative in 2015, "with a goal to deliver high-speed internet to unserved and underserved areas," and a price tag of $500 million. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.