The New York Broadband Program recently announced the Phase 3 award of $389 million for “public/private broadband investment, covering 134,757 homes and other locations across the State. This represents the third and final phase of the Program, and the successful completion of the historic effort to connect all New Yorkers to high-speed Internet.” Some New York residents beyond the reach of cable or fiber options are offered two service plans to provide satellite internet service from HughesNet. The least expensive is $60 per month for a 20 Gigabyte Plan and $130 per month for a 100 Gigabyte Plan, with bonus data for off-hours. Both plans include 25 Megabit-per second download speeds, and 3 Megabits upload speeds.
At our house in Keene (in the 5% in the town that is not serviced by broadband), we are now paying $70 a month to HughesNet for the capability that is included in this Phase 3 award for $60 per month. This is hardly adequate in normal times, but certainly not now during this pandemic. It’s easy to use up 20 Gigabytes halfway through the month with increased video conferencing and the need for uploading data to communicate with the outside world, to supplement social distancing. Our download speeds are then reduced significantly to 2 Mbps, down from 25Mbps. To give HughesNet some credit, during this pandemic they have been increasing their download speeds from 25 Mbps to 40-50 Mbps, which allows adequate streaming with the result of using up the data bytes faster. They give away what they call free tokens for increasing the data allocation. These don’t last long.