The hill could give new meaning to broadband deployment.
Before heading out for its August recess, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow members of the armed services to terminate their cable, satellite or internet service when they are deployed without having to pay an early-termination fee.
Some states already have their own laws preventing the fees, and there are currently laws that let them get out of rental agreements, auto leases and cellphone contracts, but no national “get out of service free” card.
The bill (H.R. 2409) updates the cellphone contract portion of the Service Members Civil Relief Act to include pay TV and internet contracts.
Service members don’t have to pay an early termination fee if they are deployed or otherwise have to relocate for at least 90 days. They must return any provider-owned equipment within 10 days after their service, as in cable or internet service, is disconnected.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. It will have to move quickly to get a vote before the second week of August, as senators are expected to get a break the first week of the month for a home-state work period before returning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled the traditional August recess for that body, so they won’t be redeploying back to the districts beyond that work period.
The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).
“When service members and their families receive military orders to deploy or relocate, they should not have to face fees from internet, cable or other paid television service providers in their moving process,” Costello said.
A spokesperson for NCTA–The Internet & Television Association had no comment on the bill or whether any of its members already waive such fees, but a said number of operators provide job assistance and other help to veterans.