Assembly Panel Clears Benson Bill Requiring Cable Television Companies to Make Services Available Throughout Residential Areas

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee approved legislation Wednesday sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) that would expand the areas required to have access to cable and internet service.

The bill (A-2448) would require a cable television (CATV) company holding a system-wide franchise issued by the Board of Public Utilities to make CATV service available throughout the residential areas of those municipalities not required to be served under current law within:

1) two years if, on the bill’s effective date, the CATV company is providing CATV service on a commercial basis directly to more than 25 percent of subscribers within municipality; and

(2) five years if, on the bill’s effective date, the CATV company is providing CATV service on a commercial basis directly to less than 25 percent of subscribers, but more than one percent of subscribers within the municipality.

The requirement would be subject to the CATV company’s line extension policy and exempted from the certain requirements pertaining to certain developments and buildings and areas unable to access the public rights-of-way under reasonable terms and conditions.

Upon committee approval of the measure, Benson issued the following statement:

“Reliable access to internet and cable service for many residents is not as obtainable as one may think.  There are still many areas in the state, mostly rural and densely populated communities that rely on wireless, or an antiquated dial-up service for the internet. This legislation develops a time table for cable companies to ensure that these areas are provided access to reliable, high-speed internet sooner rather than later.”