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Springfield, Holyoke, West Springfield City Councilors Team Up to Oppose Internet Data Cap

Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, Holyoke City Councilor Rebecca Lisi, and West Springfield Town Councilor Sean Powers will introduce identical resolutions opposing the data cap announced by Comcast/Xfinity.

The resolutions urge the State Legislature to act in the interest of consumers to regulate and end arbitrary data caps, and commit their respective municipalities to analyzing internet access and affordability. The Resolutions will also be forwarded to the Federal Communications Commission upon passage.

“Residents are sick and tired of being nickel and dimed, especially during a pandemic. The internet has become an essential utility for families and businesses, it is time for it to be regulated as such to protect consumers,” said At-Large Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, “Internet service providers say this will only impact a small number of consumers, but they still haven’t provided a technical justification for this cap and I am already hearing from residents who are receiving warnings that they are approaching the limit, especially from families. As communities we must assess our internet access and affordability, not just in the midst of the pandemic, but also in the context of future economic opportunities for residents and businesses.”

“Reliable internet access has become a matter of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Holyoke Councilor at-Large and mayoral candidate Rebecca Lisi, “Internet data consumption is climbing as families are required to utilize the internet for their basic needs—online learning, working remotely, telehealth appointments, and providing social-emotional supports while we are in isolation. Comcast could not have chosen a worse time to hit their customers with this additional fee—especially when the company is fully capable of meeting the present demand and capacity needs.”

“I was surprised to see the announcement” At-Large West Springfield Councilor Sean T. Powers said, “I’ve been told this is to manage congestion in real time, but the charge only comes on your bill at the end of the month and is cumulative of your total usage. I see no real-time congestion management tool here to help the daily user.” Powers added. “In a time when we’re finally adjusting to working from home and getting our children set up with on-line learning, the imposition of data-caps in our area and the Northeast can only be seen as a money-grab. The additional failure to identify why now, when the average American is being required to work from home and teach our children from home, only reaffirms this.”

All three cities are primarily served by Comcast/Xfinity for their internet service. According to the resolution, such data-caps have been called arbitrary and financially motivated by industry media reports including that of ArsTechnica, a major tech publication owned by CondeNaste, citing the capacity of networks that have been built up overtime through the service fees paid by consumers and evident by the suspension of data-caps in other parts of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as public statements by internet service provider.

Councilors say in the resolution that the rising cost of internet access, driven by lack of market competition and necessity of the service, is of concern to residents across their communities, especially but not only in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In Springfield, the resolution is set to be co-sponsored by Councilors Adam Gomez, Michael Fenton, Melvin Edwards, Malo Brown, Marcus Williams, Victor Davila, Tim Allen, Orlando Ramos, Kateri Walsh, Tracye Whitfield, and Sean Curran.

In Holyoke, the resolution is set to be co-sponsored by Councilors Juan Anderson-Burgos, Libby Hernandez, and Gladys Lebron-Martinez.

In West Springfield, the resolution is set to be co-sponsored by Councilors Edwards Sullivan, Brian Clune, Anthony DiStefano, Brian Griffin, Dan O’Brien, and George Kelly.

The West Springfield resolution will be filed for their February 1 meeting, while the Holyoke resolution will be heard on February 2. Springfields will be heard in February 8. The resolution is attached in the Springfield format.

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