MONTVILLE, NJ – Vastly high-speed services will be available to Montville Optimum customers in a few years as the company schedules upgrades across the township, but the company is keeping mum as to what the cost of the improved speed will be.

After new Patrolman Meece was sworn in at the July 17 Montville Township Committee meeting, the committee discussed the results of the cable television survey that administration had asked residents to respond to, and spoke with Altice representative Marilyn Davis.

Township Administrator Victor Canning said that three major categories of concerns were raised by residents in the survey: costs, which are regulated by the FCC; if other options are available; and the number of times that cable has been out of service for residents.

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Canning said that he has contacted Verizon to see if FIOS, or fiber-optic service, could be made available to more areas of town, but was told by the company that they were not willing to install more of the service to areas such as Towaco, since it would not bring about a good return on their investment. Some areas of Pine Brook do have the service available to residents, he said.

As far as outages, Canning said that the last two winters have presented “considerable power outages,” and with power outages, cable will also not be available. He said that unfortunately a shortcoming of the survey was that it had not asked if outages had lasted more than two hours, which is an FCC standard for a shortcoming to a cable service.

Canning said that there were also comments stating that residents were happy with their present service from Optimum.

Marilyn Davis, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Altice USA addressed the township committee and the public. Altice purchased Optimum two years ago, she said. Altice is in the process of upgrading their network to what they are calling “fiber to the home,” she said.

“Currently we have a hybrid system with co-ax and fiber,” she said, “and I think Montville Township is teed up to have the fiber system installed in 2019 or 2020. When that happens it will allow customers to go from 350 megabytes per second to 10G. The marketplace is talking about 5G – we’re talking about 10G.”

Davis said the company currently offers phone service, cable and broadband, but by the end of 2018 they will also be a mobile phone service provider. She said that while the company has increased rates, it has done so to reinvest in these upgrades “because it is a huge capital undertaking.”

“We’re looking to upgrade throughout the state of New Jersey and also our footprint in the tri-state area,” she said.

One interesting note that emerged was that part of the town is serviced by Optimum of Oakland, which includes Bergen County, and the other part of the township is serviced by Optimum of Morris County. The “Oakland portion” of town pays a $3 higher fee for their services. Davis said she didn’t know why the “Oakland portion” of town was being charged a higher fee.

Another point, made by Canning, was that no other cable providers stepped forward to request a service agreement between the town and provider. He later told TAPinto Montville that when such a 10-year agreement is signed, the township receives energy tax credits because of the rights of way the company is using. Further, the schools and government buildings receive free access to cable as part of the agreement. In order to sign such an agreement, the company has to provide the service to the entire township. Verizon does not have an agreement with the township but conversely cannot be blocked from providing service in the township, Canning said. Further, the agreement with Altice is not exclusive.

A member of the public requested that the township request Google Fiber to investigate coming into the township. Another member of the public asked what the cost increase would be when the 10G service is installed and Davis said she did not know.

The former agreement with Cablevision expires at the end of 2018. Negotiations between the town and Altice continue, but it seems inevitable that since no other providers have contacted the town, the town will sign another agreement with Altice.

Other News

Other topics discussed at the meeting included the JCP&L hearing held May 22, when JCP&L Area Manager John Meehan was asked questions by the committee and residents. Township officials have stated at subsequent meetings that they would like answers to their questions, and at the July 17 meeting, they passed resolution 2018-176 to “memorialize” 18 questions and concerns.

Committee Member Matthew Kayne commented that JCP&L will be spending $400 million on its four-year “JCP&L Reliability Plus” plan, and he would like to know how much of that will be spent in Montville Township (read: Jersey Central Power & Light Announces Program to Enhance Reliability for Electric Customers). Further, he requested looking into restoring the 4th of July parade.

Assistant Administrator June Hercek said that construction on the Community Park playground is set to begin Aug. 1.

Mayor Richard Conklin said that the goals for the township seem to be in line for being completed or exceeded and are coming along well. He also said that the Municipal Pipeline Group will be meeting with the governor to express their concerns about the Pilgrim Pipeline.

In July and April, new street signs were installed at: Asa Street and Abbott Road at Route 202, and the following streets at the corners of Changebridge Road: Ashland, Cedar, Gabriel, Harbeson, Hillcrest, Kayhart, Lancaster, Macculoch, Manchester, Mountain, Olympia and Waxberg. Also signs were installed at the intersections of Bloomfield Ave with Cindy Road, John St., Maple Ave. Margaret Dr., and VanWinkle Rd.

Approximately 600 signs town-wide will be replaced over the next several years, according to the township project status report.

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