(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation that would expand the areas required to have access to cable and internet service. The bill (A-1451) is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land.
“Reliable access to internet and cable service for many residents is not as obtainable as one may think,” said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex). “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.”
The bill (A-1451) 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 no 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.
“This is a real concern for New Jersey residents, especially in areas of the 1st Legislative District,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “We rely on internet for nearly everything from our phones and tablets to the radio programming in our car. Cable companies can extend these services and reach more communities in a timelier manner.”
“Wireless hotspots can be far and few in between especially in rural communities,” said Land (D- Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “Reliable internet and cable service should not be difficult to come by for residents in this day and age. This legislation can help set a timeline for companies to extend cable and internet access to the states underserved communities.”
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.
The bill was released by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee; and it will now be considered for a vote on the Assembly floor.