BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced Tuesday his bill to expand affordable broadband access for all New Yorkers passed the Assembly unanimously.

“Far too many New Yorkers lack access to high-speed broadband, experience inadequate speeds, or are forced to pay too much due to lack of competition. In Western New York, costs are higher in low-income city neighborhoods and rural communities. According to a 2019 FCC report, nearly 20% of New York State residents lack access to broadband,” Ryan said.

He also says the pandemic has caused people to rely on internet access more than ever before, from ordering groceries online to attending school and meetings over Zoom.

The bill would take a multi-step approach to identify problems with broadband access and implement solutions to ensure every New Yorker has affordable high-speed internet, according to Assemblyman Ryan.

Ryan tells News 4 the bill would empower New York State’s Public Service Commission to take aggressive action to expand the broadband.

It now heads to the Senate.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Assemblyman Ryan said:

“Even before the Pandemic hit, access to high-speed broadband was critically important in our modern economy. The pandemic has magnified the problem of poor internet access here in New York, and around our nation. We rely on the internet now more than ever. From ordering groceries, to participating in virtual meetings and online classes, every New Yorker needs access to high-speed internet. Urban and rural areas are the least connected, and we need to take concrete action to better serve communities here in Western New York and across our state. People living in communities with poor internet access must often visit local libraries or neighborhood coffee shops to access the internet. With the pandemic, they can’t even go inside, and are forced to sit in the parking lot. This should be unacceptable in 2020. We need a comprehensive study to determine broadband availability, quality, reliability, and affordability, and we need to create a public/private partnership to assist underserved communities. This bill is essential step forward to ensure every New Yorkers has affordable highspeed internet access.”

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.