Toms River Mayor Mo Hill has become ensnared in a dispute with Verizon over the company’s service in certain Toms River buildings, with Hill opposing Verizon’s request for a waiver from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
In December 2020, the BPU renewed its contract with Verizon for 379 municipalities, among them Toms River. As part of the longstanding agreement, Toms River and 69 other municipalities are guaranteed cable access, but the BPU said in a July 13 letter to Hill that Verizon has been unable to provide such service in 24 multi-dwelling buildings, and has thus requested a waiver.
“Verizon recently submitted information to the BPU that reflects the Company was unable to negotiate an access agreement with ownership/management in a number of Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) buildings,” Lawanda Gilbert, the head of the BPU’s office of cable television and communications, said in the letter. “Consequently, residents in certain MDU buildings are still without access to fiber optic FiOS TV service and high-speed broadband internet service.”
Hill, however, is disputing the contention that Verizon has been unable to secure access in the 24 buildings. In an August 15 response letter to Gilbert, Hill said that he has been in contact with stakeholders in three of the buildings, and all three said that they already have access to Verizon FiOS services, negating Verizon’s reasoning for the waiver.
“[My office] spoke with property managers, Home Owners Association Board Members and tenants,” Hill said. “EACH of the MDUs represented indicated that their properties HAVE ACCESS to Verizon FiOS services now.”
Hill, a Republican who has led his Ocean County community since 2020, thus said he opposed the waiver request, saying that it could cause “undue inconvenience” to the residents of the 24 buildings.
“I urge the BPU to decline Verizon’s request for a waiver of access to MDUs in Toms River Township,” Hill said. “At the very least, I encourage the Board to postpone action on the waiver request until the matter is further investigated. Verizon’s request is inconsistent with the information that Toms River residents have provided to my staff.”