Verizon New Jersey has reached a settlement with Cumberland County and 17 South Jersey towns over chronic problems with their landline phone and Internet service.
The settlement comes two years after the county and towns filed a formal complaint with the state BPU. They claimed the telecom giant wasn’t maintaining its wired infrastructure and refused to offer higher-quality phone and higher-speed Internet service to customers in the largely rural southern part of the state.
The settlement, which is awaiting approval by the BPU, would let the local governments avoid a costly court battle and spare Verizon a potential public relations headache.
Verizon indicates that it has invested more than $100 million in its copper landline network in South Jersey. A copy of the settlement obtained by WHYY requires the telecom company to identify, repair, or replace faulty copper cables and run daily tests of its infrastructure. It also agreed to install new equipment that will ease DSL congestion in areas with high demand and monitor Internet speeds there monthly.
Stefanie Brand, director of the Division of Rate Counsel, said the deal was the best residents could get. But not everyone is satisfied.
Greg Facemyer, a Hopewell Township committeeman in Cumberland County, said that Verizon's refusal to offer Fios in certain rural areas of southern New Jersey widens the "digital divide", hurting students, small business owners, and senior citizens.
on NewsWorks.org, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.