New Jerseyans would get refunds if their internet, cable or phone service goes down for three days or longer, under a bill endorsed Thursday by an Assembly committee.

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, D-Mercer, the lead sponsor of A229, said the goal is “making sure that we’re protecting the consumer the best we can,” because people now are still required to pay bills even after elongated outages.

“This is to ensure that making sure that after 72 hours, regardless of whether it’s power or a tree limb falls down on the communication line, that it’s the utility’s issue and the utility’s fault and that they will give a credit after 72 hours to the person’s bill so they’re not paying for a service that’s not being provided,” DeAngelo said.

The bill would require the prorated refunds to be issued automatically, without customers having to ask.

The bill was unanimously endorsed by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. It was also amended so that refunds wouldn’t be required unless service was down for 72 hours, rather than 24 hours as had been originally proposed.

“It got changed because right now, the way that it’s written, 72 hours was if the electrical utility couldn’t provide power,” DeAngelo said. “It would push that out to 72 hours even though the cable or the fiber infrastructure is there, is still in good shape, the hazard is the electric. I just did this to parallel that to make it easy so we didn’t have it turn into a challenging situation of he-said, she-said, making it all 72 hours and resolving it from that point.���

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The bill was first proposed in 2012. It made it through the same committee in January 2018, applicable after a 24-hour outage, but wasn’t called for a vote during the rest of the two-year session that expired last month.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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