Rep. Vargas Co-Files Bill to Prohibit Comcast, Others From Raising Internet Fees or Capping Services

State Rep. Andy X. Vargas. (Courtesy photograph.)

Comcast would be prohibited from imposing its planned data cap and shutting off service during the COVID-19 pandemic if Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas has his way.

Vargas and Rep. Dave Rogers of Cambridge filed the bill this week, following up on a letter they and 69 other legislators sent to Comcast in December. The letter, as WHAV reported came in response to Comcast’s planned 1.2 Terabyte data cap and penalty.

“The pandemic has created record levels of unemployment and food insecurity for families in the Commonwealth. Meanwhile the internet conglomerates operating here continue to rake in revenue and have seen record numbers of subscribers. COVID-19 has forced internet access to become a basic need and we can’t allow this vital service to be priced unfairly. There is no research or justification to back up the need for data cap,” said Vargas.

The bill bans internet service providers from shutting off service for customers facing financial hardships caused by the pandemic, prevents them from raising the cost of service and from creating any new fees or charges and stops any new data caps or allowances. It also establishes a moratorium on any existing data caps or allowances already established by providers and repeals a law limiting the state’s ability to regulate internet service providers.

Rogers said, “Charging customers more during a devastating pandemic simply makes no sense. This legislation will ensure that these large corporations cannot unfairly burden our communities during a public health crisis, when after all many of us must work from home, participate in remote learning, and perform countless other vital tasks. These services are not a luxury; they are a necessity.”

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