Once a line is laid, it doesn't cost any more in cash or manpower to squirt a signal down the pipe. Slow internet speed are less the result of equipment limitation than they are of the ISPs purposely throttling the speeds.
Err.. Incorrect. But it's the Internet. So it costs money to lay cable. Ok, so a lot of those costs are front-loaded, but civils to dig up roads, pavements etc costs a lot of money. Far more than the cost of the cable. Then it may need digging up again for maintenance to fix faults, self-inflicted or due to backhoe fade. Some of those costs might be recoverable, ie if you dig up my cable, I could sue you. Others can't. Like paying for permits, traffic management, properly unionised.. I mean trained labor etc.
Then there's staff needed to support and maintain the network. So someone to record a message asking you to try reporting 'the Internet is down' via their handy online self-service portal. Or ideally answer the phone. Or drive for a few hours to do some line tests, write 'NFF', and drive home again. All at agreed rates. Especially in somewhere like NY with it's unions preventing Uber drivers from becoming self-employed wiremen
Then there's a bunch of other overheads. It does cost cash to squirt a signal down a pipe, whether that's photons or electrons. So someone has to pay the electricity bills, even if some of those costs have been shifted to the consumer, ie a NID with a battery plugged into a consumer supply vs power supplied by headend kit. Of course if consumer power is.. questionable, then it'll be costs to replace those NIDs.
Or there's boring stuff like rent & rates, which may include fun tasks like trying to locate a building owner to get consent to run or fix cable. Or negotiate rent or wayleave price increases because building owners want to sweat their assets. Or there's regulatory costs, ranging from lobbying (this is a bad idea, that's a really bad idea) to taxes, costs of policy compliance for law enforcement, 911/e911, data retention, FCC form-filling or just blocking pron. Cuomo's not proposed that one I don't think. Or taxes like USO, where big Telcos pay into a universal fund to support small telcos, or rural broadband.
But like the article sorta says.. It's those small operators that would be at most risk because they don't have the scale to cross-subsidise, especially if they're in economically disadvantaged areas. Especially as those areas would probably also be the ones to benefit most from affordable broadband. But that's what USO is supposedly for, but that money's adminstered by a political outfit, not the telcos who have to pay into it.
And then of course there are the other usual suspects. Like Amazon, Google, Facepalm, Netflix, Disney etc who all make collosal sums of money from online activities, but don't really contribute much towards the costs. But that's the thorny subject behind most of the 'Net Neutrality' debate, ie ISPs pay for everything, content providers should be allowed to enjoy their free ride.