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Brindisi plan targets internet providers, Spectrum, on rising costs

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) at Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango, earlier this year.

Mohawk Valley Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is again targeting cable and internet providers like Spectrum, who are raising prices. Brindisi said his plan would investigate the rising costs and propose federal penalties to cable and internet companies fined by a state.

Brindisi wants to add language into the upcoming federal funding bill that would require the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to submit a report. It would include ways for consumers to protect themselves from predatory actions of cable and internet providers. And it would require the FCC to propose consequences to those providers that have been fined on the state level, like Spectrum was by the New York State Public Service Commission, last year.

“What we have found is these companies are very secretive," Brindisi said. "They don’t want to shed too much light on their business practices. But to me, sunshine is the best disinfectant. We should expose what these companies are doing. They are making billions of dollars off of raising cable rates for consumers living on fixed incomes.”

Brindisi also introduced a bill earlier this year, that’s been stuck in committee, that would require cable companies that have been fined, to disclose information about their billing practices and what they are doing with public money meant to expand internet and broadband service to underserved and rural areas.

Brindisi said his office gets phone calls weekly from customers who say they are paying more for less service from internet providers.

"I don't see them doing a whole lot with the money they are getting by increasing our prices," Brindisi said. "What I do see is them enriching their shareholders and taking advantage of consumers, which is exactly what I think is their business model, and we need to do more to expose that."

Brindisi's plan would also establish a working group to examine the rising rates in the industry. He said he wants the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission in that group because it is the responsibility of everyone who oversees these companies, to play more of an active role in protecting customers.  

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.